All non-urgent procedures are being delayed as Bedford Hospital deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The chief executives of both Bedford and the Luton and Dunstable Hospital (L&D) answered questions on the coronavirus outbreak at a meeting in Bedford on Monday (16 March).
David Carter, the L&D’s chief executive, taking the reins when the Bedford and Luton hospitals merge next month, said, “We have today (Monday) cancelled our elective surgery.”
He added that emergencies, trauma cases and cancer cases would continue to be dealt with.
He told the health overview and scrutiny committee that the move would create space in operating theatres that the could be used for intensive care.
Another knock on effect was that “large numbers of patients” were not turning up for out-patient appointments.
Mr Carter admitted that he is, “Worried about some of those patients who have not turned up” and are “voting with their feet” because they are nervous about coming to the hospital.
He said it helped to some extent because some patients who don’t necessarily need to attend have kept away.
But he added that “there must be patients within that who probably do need to attend A&E have not, or who have not been able to access their GP, and might now be more sick when they do come to us down the line.”
Stephen Conroy, the outgoing chief executive of Bedford Hospital said, “We’ve dealt very well with our first case. The patient was in isolation from last Thursday when they were admitted.
“They were discharged today (Monday), fit and healthy again.
“Staff are trained. They deal with infectious diseases all the time. This is less infectious than some we’ve had to deal with in the past on a routine basis.
“But there’s more agitation and anxiety around this than there is around flu, which is a bigger killer.
“Part of that is to do with media coverage. Part of it is to do with it’s new and we’re not sure what sort of latent immunity might be in the system.”
Mr Conroy said if schools are closed early it would be “the biggest single impact on our staff.”
He added, “A lot of our staff have children of school age and if they have to stay off to look after their kids it would mean nearly 25% fewer nurses on wards at a time when demand is going up. Of course some of the nurses and doctors will themselves be ill as well.”
“How we manage that across the system will be very important for us.”
Philip Simpkins, the chief executive of Bedford Borough Council said, “The knock-on effects could be dramatic.”
Responding to a question about the first confirmed covid-19 case at Bedford Hospital, Muriel Scott, the borough director of public health said: “Our advice doesn’t change.
“Some of the advice is quite basic, about handwashing and frequent handwashing.
by Local Democracy Reporter, David Tooley