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Coronavirus: Whittington Hospital books hotel rooms for NHS staff

Hospital reveals plans to ensure "the most sick and vulnerable as well as cancer patients" are not neglected

20 March, 2020 — By Tom Foot

A new staff testing regime is also being worked on in north London 

THE Whittington Hospital has begun booking hotel rooms for frontline NHS workers who have been told to self-isolate under Government advice.

The rooms are for staff who have been told to stay indoors for a fortnight because they are living with people diagnosed with coronavirus. 

It is part of a range of measures aimed at maintaining levels of “valuable staff well enough to work” in the hospital outlined in a memo from managers to “key stakeholders” today (Friday).

The memo said: “We have sourced a number of hotel rooms to allow colleagues who share a house with a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to continue to work, instead of having to self-isolate for 14 days.”

“They can also be used in order to allow colleagues to continue to work for other reasons. We will also be launching an appeal so that those who want to support our staff over the coming months can do so.”

There are fears that if large numbers of NHS workers have got the virus there will not be enough left to cope with the huge surge in admissions and attendances.

The memo said managers were also working “on implementing a new staff testing programme so that we can urgently confirm whether staff who may have been exposed to coronavirus are positive or negative”, adding: “This will reduce the burden of the 7-day isolation period on our valuable staff if they are well enough to work.”

Inside the hospital, separate areas are being set up to ensure “the most sick and vulnerable as well as cancer patients” can continue to be looked after. All surgery, except for urgent cases or cancer elective operations, are being postponed.

A “theatre recovery area” – normally used for patients after planned surgery – has been turned into “a new separate intensive care space for patients who do not have Coronavirus (COVID-19)”, the memo said.

Non emergency care NHS staff are being trained-up “in intensive care skills and management of acutely sick respiratory patients”.

“We are maintaining emergency and trauma surgery in our other theatre,” the ‘stakeholder update’ said.

The hospital’s management said it was “keen to emphasise and promote that the hospital is safe non-COVID patients”.

Staff are receiving updates once a day through the intranet – an internal internet system.

“We have been rigorous in planning for an increased number of patients who need to be treated for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19,” the memo added.

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