An open letter to our patients, their relatives and carers and our local community: how we are responding to coronavirus | Latest news

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An open letter to our patients, their relatives and carers and our local community: how we are responding to coronavirus

As we all know, we are in unprecedented times. Globally every country is affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In the UK, the NHS continues to face the challenge of its lifetime.

We want to reassure you that here at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust we are working very hard to meet that challenge.

We were one of the first areas in the country to deal with high levels of the virus. And we have responded incredibly quickly to make sure we continue to provide the best care for our patients.

Adapting the way we work to deal with the challenge

We are proud of how quickly our teams have adapted to deal with the challenges we have faced. For example:

  • We more than doubled our number of critical care beds by converting wards and operating theatres to make sure we could provide care for our sickest patients, those requiring oxygen and ventilation. Like other trusts, we have now reduced these numbers, as we currently are seeing fewer patients who require this level of care.
  • We have temporarily stopped all non-urgent activity within our hospitals. This includes all non-urgent outpatient appointments and planned operations. Our clinical teams have reviewed each of their patients on a case by case basis, weighing up the risks of postponing surgery with the need to create additional capacity and making sure that we are using our limited resources most effectively across our hospitals. This has helped us to create the ward space we need to treat patients with the virus.
  • We deployed staff to areas of greatest need. It has been remarkable to see the commitment and dedication of our staff who have taken on roles in areas where they do not normally work.

We are of course keeping our bed capacity under constant review and are working closely with colleagues across north west London, including working with private providers where necessary, to make sure patients requiring more routine treatment be seen as swiftly as is safely possible. We will continue to monitor, respond, and adapt as circumstances change.

Making sure we are still treating and caring for non-Covid-19 patients

While we have temporarily stopped non-urgent activity in line with other NHS trusts around the country, we continue to treat and care for patients who do not have Covid-19 and who urgently need our services.

  • We have embraced technology: wherever possible, clinical teams have moved to delivering outpatient appointments by phone or video calls.
  • We continue to run services for those patients who urgently need them, for example, for cancer treatment, heart attack, stroke and other urgent medical needs.
  • Our A&E departments remain open and we are here to treat people with emergency conditions – for example if they think they may have had a heart attack or a stroke, or have had a life or limb-threatening accident.
  • Our maternity services continue to support mums and dads-to-be and new parents and babies, helping them have as positive a birth experience as possible.

Looking after our staff

It is a top priority for us that we make sure our teams are as safe and well-supported as they can be in meeting this challenge – whether that be through:

Making sure our staff have the right PPE (personal protective equipment) and other equipment

We know there are understandable concerns about making sure that enough PPE is available, and that there continue to be some national supply challenges which are well documented.

At the moment, our stocks are adequate but we, like many others, know we need more. We are working closely with the NHS across London and with the national team to make sure we have sufficient PPE for our frontline staff. Internally, we have put in place a new distribution process which has improved the availability of this essential equipment across our sites. We have procedures in place to ensure staff have the right equipment and know how to escalate this if there are concerns about running out.

Offering testing for those with Covid-19 symptoms

We are now testing all staff and their family or household members who have symptoms and want a test. We were one of the first trusts to introduce testing in the community for those staff who cannot drive to a testing site. The testing allows staff to come back to work if they are well when their families or household members have symptoms.

Making sure our staff have the right training and day-to-day support for roles they are undertaking, many of whom have been redeployed to different teams and specialties

We’re providing a variety of mental health support for staff who need it. We also have an employee assistance programme in place to support staff 24/7, and staff have access to national apps supporting those with anxiety and insomnia.

In addition, we have put some smaller but valuable wellbeing activities in place, including upgrading some of our staff rest rooms, providing free car parking for staff very early on, and have provided free meals for staff over the bank holiday weekends.

Finally…

You can find accurate information about our hospitals and services and how to access them, and the latest in our coronavirus response via our official communication channels:

We would like to thank our local community for showing their support for our staff in so many different ways. Through the weekly 8pm ‘clap for carers’, special supermarket opening times, and deliveries of free food and other items kindly donated by local people and businesses. We all welcome the thoughtfulness and kindness being shown.

We are immensely proud of and deeply thank the whole team at LNWH. We see such care and compassion in the most stressful and demanding situation we have known working in our NHS.

We know the next few weeks and months will still be challenging, but I know our fantastic teams will continue to pull together and do the very best that we can for our patients and each other. We look forward to working with our local communities as we come together to respond to this disease.

Take care and stay safe.

Sir Amyas Morse
Chair

Chris Bown
Interim Chief Executive

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