Some of the services that were postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be restored across University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) over the coming weeks and months as the Trust moves into the second phase of its coronavirus response.
Teams across the Trust have been working hard to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure the safety and quality of services for all patients. Along with the rest of the NHS, the number one priority for the last few months has been ensuring that all those who need urgent care - not just those with coronavirus - have been able to get it when they need it.
To enable this to happen and to help reduce the spread of the virus, some non-urgent appointments and surgeries were postponed and other appointments were delivered in a different way such as via telephone or video clinics.
Services affected included:
Cancer: Services continued with the exception of screening (breast, bowel and cervical); colonoscopy (routine and surveillance), upper gastrointestinal and some other investigations that we use for cancer pathways, for example, spirometry.
All routine surgery and outpatient face to face attendances were suspended from March 20 with the exception of patients on cancer or other urgent pathways.
The Initial Referral Discussion Plan was suspended in its entirety. All routine imaging was suspended and all routine Clinical Investigations such as angiograms were also suspended.
With the exception of gastrointestinal bleeds and patients triaged as urgent, all endoscopy was suspended.
The Trust is now in the position to be able to restore some of the services that were changed or postponed while teams were focused on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trust has already started to see some of the patients awaiting urgent elective procedures and is now starting to see patients who have been waiting for their elective procedures including:
- Endoscopy: We are now doing all two-week wait and urgent and have restarted bowel screening.
- Dermatology: Surgery services have been restored.
- Day surgery: Procedures that support cancer pathways - these include infusions and other treatments - have been reinstated.
- Ophthalmology services: Outpatient and surgery have been restored.
- Orthopaedic surgery: Now restored.
- Ultrasound and xray services: Both re-instated at Ulverston.
- Home birth services and colposcopy clinics: All reinstated.
In the next couple of weeks we are planning to restore the rest of the routine work we carry out including Clinical Investigation Unit work, stroke and frailty ambulatory care services, breast screening services and the virtual fracture clinic service.
Telephone and video clinics will continue wherever possible to prevent people making unnecessary trips to hospitals.
Clinicians across the Trust are currently reviewing relevant patients awaiting an appointment in the light of national guidance to allow them to determine which patients should be offered an appointment now and who can be deferred to a later date. The plans are also being produced in partnership with the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System to ensure all patients in the area have fair and equal access to care.
The Trust has put measures into place to support the safety of staff, patients and visitors who need to attend its hospitals and community settings. These measures include:
- Ensuring patients with suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus will continue to be cared for on designated wards across the Trust.
- Patients awaiting planned surgery will be required to self-isolate for 14 days prior to coming into hospital and will be tested for coronavirus before their procedure goes ahead in line with the Trust’s policy to test all patients on admission or before surgery.
- Hand washing facilities and hand gel are available at all of the Trust’s main hospitals and community settings.
- Schedules of enhanced cleaning of public areas have been increased.
- Relevant wards have been reviewed to ensure there is at least two metres between the beds to allow for social distancing.
- Testing of symptomatic staff and family members will continue as per current guidelines and additional capacity is in place to enable routine testing of staff in frontline roles showing no symptoms (asymptomatic) will support infection prevention and control measures.
- Access to antibody testing is also available to Trust staff and, so far, more than 7,000 members of staff have registered to take part in the initiative. This will help to build understanding and knowledge of coronavirus and inform the clinical approach.