Outpatient appointments set to continue as Royal Stoke draws up coronavirus battle plans


Outpatient appointments are continuing as normal for now as hospital bosses meet daily to discuss their response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

But patients will be asked to attend appointments at Royal Stoke University Hospital and Stafford’s County Hospital either alone, or with just one other person for support.

The hospital has already restricted visiting hours to between 4pm and 7pm and set a limit of a maximum two visitors per patient.

It comes as the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust, which runs the two hospitals, is preparing for an influx of patients suffering from Covid-19, at the same time as dealing with all the usual pressures brought on by winter illnesses and general injuries and ailments.

The trust is also drawing up plans of how to cope should staff need to self-isolate after contracting symptoms of the virus.

A trust spokesman said: “As coronavirus expands, routine health services will inevitably come under pressure, just as they are across Europe.


“As such, along with all hospitals nationally, University Hospitals of North Midlands is looking at ways it can respond to the outbreak, in line with its well-established escalation protocols.

“Outpatients appointments are continuing as normal. However, in line with national advice, we are asking people to stay at home for seven days if they have a new continuous cough or a temperature.

“In order to minimise the risk of infection, we are asking people attending appointments to come alone, or if they need support, with a maximum of one other person.

“Our staff and those from our NHS partners are working round the clock to test and treat patients with coronavirus, but the public can also play their part by following health advice, including washing their hands and covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.

“If anyone is worried about symptoms, they should look for latest advice on nhs.uk.”

NHS nurses at a drive-through Coronavirus testing site

Stewart Robinson, branch secretary of North Midlands Unison, said daily tactical meetings are taking place addressing staffing levels as well as the action plan to test and treat people for the virus.

Mr Robinson said: “The trust is well prepared and is being quite proactive.

“There’s been a couple of staff who have taken advice from 111 and are self-isolating away from work.

“Managers are keeping close supervision of staff and are asking if they have any concerns. People with underlying health conditions need to be looked at.

“We are looking at people aged over 70 who still work at the hospital, and whether they will need to self-isolate in the future.

“Tactical meetings are taking place every day and that is looking at staffing and what to do if staff are sick.

“We are looking at what other staff we can bring into the hospital, like third-year students, to see if they can do some clinical work, just in case.

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“Some non-clinical staff who have a clinical background and are still able to practice might be called back to do clinical work rather than administration.

“Unison is meeting with the trust regularly.”





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