Hospital parking lots are set to be used as Nightingale’s new ‘surge centers’ as trusts across the country are put on hold to deal with a further surge in Covid admissions.
The temporary structures will be installed on the existing hospital grounds of eight UK hospitals and will be able to accommodate up to 100 patients. The trusts were also asked to identify any areas on their land, such as gymnasiums and education centers, which could be converted to accommodate more patients if needed.
St. James Hospital in Leeds is one of the hospitals selected to host the new facilities and staff have received an email telling them it will be in the Millennial car park. “This additional capacity will free up space in hospital wards for those who need a higher level of medical care,” the post said.
Dr Matthew Knight, consultant pulmonologist at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘If you are thinking of building a field hospital in a parking lot and treating patients in an understaffed tent, I think you can justify the stop some new New Year’s Eve celebrations and ask everyone to stay at home for a fortnight.
The government says the new hospital structures “will improve the resilience of the NHS” if the record number of Covid infections exceeds existing capacity. However, hospital heads wondered how the additional units would be staffed given increasing absences due to doctors’ self-isolation.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said staff absences due to Covid-19 “are clearly now having a significant impact” on the whole economy and parts of the health services. Chris Hopson said the pressure to reduce isolation time would increase if the absence rates of Covid NHS staff and the risk to quality of care and patient safety increased. But he said a decision to reduce the period from seven to five days – as the United States has done – was a “risk judgment” for the government to make.
Mr Hopson said: “The NHS experience suggests that the impact varies considerably depending on the number of staff isolated, due to infection rates in the local community; ability to quickly find temporary replacement staff; and the ability to adapt existing staff to cover the work of those who are absent.
Currently, people who receive negative lateral flow results on the sixth and seventh days of their self-isolation period – with tests performed 24 hours apart – no longer have to stay. indoors for 10 full days. The latest data from NHS England shows that across England, 18,829 NHS staff in acute trusts were absent due to Covid-19 on December 19, up 54% from the 12 240 a week earlier.
Meanwhile, the number of hospital admissions increased 90% in one week with 2,082 new Covid-19 patients in England on December 28, the highest number since February 3. In the second wave of the coronavirus, admissions peaked at 4,134 on January 12. In London, 456 admissions were recorded on December 28, up 49% week-on-week and the highest number since January 28.
There are now 11,452 people hospitalized in England with the virus, according to figures from NHS England, up 61% from the previous week and the highest number since February 26.
Mr Hopson said the government and its advisers had to weigh “very different, often incomplete and uncertain and sometimes contradictory” forms of evidence to make a decision. But he warned there were “difficult tradeoffs” because of the potential for an increased risk of infection both in hospitals and in the community.
Meanwhile, the President of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), Professor Martin Marshall, said Omicron “is still spreading like wildfire” and causing “huge problems” for medical practices.
Professor Marshall, who works as a general practitioner in east London, said: ‘Covid is still spreading like wildfire and it has massive implications for health services in general. We are seeing an increase in the number of employees who have to self-isolate and work from home if they have the electronic capability to do so, or who simply cannot contribute, putting pressure on the rest of the staff. in general medicine. “