Hospitals and health facilities upgrade facilities ahead of possible coronavirus second wave

PUBLISHED: 11:05 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 11 September 2020

Funding and new facilities for Essex to combat potential second coronavirus wave. Picture: PA WIRE

Funding and new facilities for Essex to combat potential second coronavirus wave. Picture: PA WIRE


Hospitals and health facilities across Essex are gearing up for a possible second wave of coronavirus this winter, with further funding and new facilities being put in place.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said coronavirus case numbers have been rising, especially for 17 to 29-year-olds.

As of Tuesday September 8, the total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Essex was 6,173, a rate of 414.5 cases per 100,000 people, according to data from Public Health England.

In Essex, 225 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed over the past two weeks.

In Uttlesford there have been 331 cases in total. In the last seven days there have been 19 cases confirmed.

Coronavirus rules are expected to change on Monday (September 14) and it will be illegal to have social gatherings of more than six people, either indoors or outdoors in England.

It will not apply to schools, workplaces, funerals, organised team sports, and Covid-secure weddings.

Broomfield and Basildon hospitals will receive £4.8 million funding to upgrade the Emergency Department facilities ahead of winter.

They are also going to care for the sickest Covid-19 patients in one location this winter, in the MSE Specialist Critical Care Centre on the Basildon site.

A spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: “There is already infrastructure -oxygen supply and appropriately configured ward space- at Basildon which will allow for the patients to be cared for in one unit rather than spread across hospital sites in different locations as was the case during the first surge.

“The plan involves creating a facility for 26 patients with capability to increase to 100 in the event of extreme surge.”

The extra money will be used for several projects to create increased and better use of space for patients, to achieve appropriate social distancing in Emergency Departments.

The work will be completed as soon as possible.

A North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group spokesperson said: “We are developing plans for this winter with the support of all our partners. They will include the learning from the first wave of Covid-19 and a review of our workforce resilience and initiatives aimed at supporting people to receive the services they need.

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“Alongside this, there will be a communications plan that will support local and national awareness raising campaigns.

“This will support internal communications for staff but also external awareness with all of our local communities.”

Lance McCarthy, chief executive of The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said they are working with partners to prepare and are about to start construction on a new two-storey assessment unit to provide additional patient capacity.

“The new Medical and Surgical Assessment Centre will be adjacent to the emergency department at the front of the hospital and next to Charnley Ward. This will improve the facilities available for our patients ahead of the completion of the new hospital.

“We urge all to continue to follow the national guidance to stay alert and safe.”

A spokesperson for West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are working closely not just with our local hospitals and GPs, but with local councils, mental health providers, community healthcare teams, pharmacists and many others to make sure we are all as prepared as possible to care for those who may need our help.

“This includes a range of plans and actions to help manage any local outbreaks and maintain vital services.

“Our communities can help support their local NHS by getting a flu jab, social distancing, washing their hands regularly, and following other national Government guidance so that, together, we keep infection levels down as far as possible.”

Essex County Council’s Director of Public Health Dr Mike Gogarty is urging the public to remain vigilant with social distancing, regular hand washing, and to not put off requesting a test if someone has symptoms.

These are a new continuous cough, a high temperature and a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Dr Gogarty said: “We know that nationally, only 30 percent of people showing symptoms are requesting a test.

“People should not be put off requesting a test if they have symptoms. Unless people isolate and get tested we will see a strong resurgence of the virus and will be back in lockdown.”

The British Medical Association is warning it will be “one of the toughest winters in the history of the NHS” with East of England medics tackling a backlog of care, Covid patients and the flu.

Sarah-Jane Marsh, the director of testing at NHS Test and Trace, apologised on Twitter on Tuesday for people having problems getting a Covid test.

She said all testing sites have capacity, but there is a pinch-point with laboratory processing. Additional labs are due to open imminently.

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