The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group is supporting all frontline services and providing a co-ordination and oversight role as the strategic lead for the NHS response to Covid-19 in Kent and Medway. This briefing provides a summary of how the local NHS is working to provide the best possible care to patients and save lives.
(Figures are the position on 23 April 2020)
Sticking with stay at home
Hospitals across Kent and Medway have increased the number of specialist beds available to support patients experiencing the most serious reactions to Covid-19.
Thankfully the early assumptions on how many people might need specialist beds has not materialised. Hospitals are caring for just over 145 patients in specialist ventilation and ‘oxygen plus’ beds, and we have around 160 more of these beds available if needed.
This shows that the commitment the people of Kent and Medway are making to staying and home and following the social distancing rules is helping to break the chain of infection and is protecting the local NHS.
Thousands of NHS clinicians and the teams supporting them behind the scenes are working day and night to care for patients and tackle the pandemic. The support the public have shown to the NHS is truly humbling. We need that support to continue in the weeks ahead with everyone sticking with the stay at home rules.
Testing services for health and care staff
The number of staff off sick or self-isolating with possible covid-19 symptoms is around 7% across Kent and Medway NHS services; which is around 2,200 staff.
Where people don’t actually have Covid-19 we want to confirm that and get people back to work as soon as possible.
We now have testing services being run by all our local hospitals in Kent and Medway; with the capacity to test around 750 people a day. Adding to these will be a new site opening at Ebbsfleet International train station as part of the national testing programme. More details on the Ebbsfleet services will follow shortly.
All our testing sites are currently for frontline health and care staff and other staff providing essential services such as police and fire, local authority staff, prison staff and others.
All testing services are run by pre-booked appointments only. Details of how people can book are shared with relevant organisations.
Urgent dental care
Seven Urgent Dental Care centres (also known as hubs) have been set up across Kent and Medway by NHS England and NHS Improvement to meet the distinct needs of people with urgent dental care needs during the current pandemic.
The Kent and Medway centres are in Larkfield, Rochester, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Chatham, Ashford and Maidstone. They are part of 38 centres being set up across the South East.
Patients will be telephone triaged and if a face to face appointment is needed they will be directed to the appropriate centre. Drop-ins to the centres are not allowed given the need to protect patient and staff safety.
If a patient has an urgent or emergency dental condition they should contact a dental practice for a telephone assessment to assess their dental needs. This could either be the dental practice they normally attend or an NHS practice nearest to their home address, which can be located on https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/dentists/
Find out more about urgent dental care in the pandemic.
GP services for people with symptoms or living with someone with symptoms
We now have dedicated services across Kent and Medway to provide face to face appointments with general practice teams to review covid-19 symptoms; and any other health problems people who are self-isolating have.
Equally there are other locations which are dedicated to continuing to provide GP services for people without covid-19 symptoms.
All GP appointments are being organised by phone at the moment; and many actual consultations are being provided by phone or online. This is to limit the need for people to travel and to make sure people who do need a face to face appointment are directed to the right services depending on their Covid-19 status.
Find out more about GP services in the pandemic.
Mental health support
Safe havens have opened in Canterbury, Folkestone, Medway, Maidstone, and Thanet for all residents over the age of 16 living in Kent and Medway, offering telephone support during the pandemic. The safe havens will be open to the public for face to face support when restrictions are lifted, and it is safe to do so.
Funded by the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, the safe havens were due to open to the public in April as places people could walk-in and seek support with mental health issues in the evening when other services are closed. With current restrictions this has not been possible, but the phone support is an important new service available to local people.
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic grows, getting mental health support will be increasingly important so the providers have changed the service, so telephone advice is available to all residents of the county over the age of 16.
In Canterbury, Medway, Maidstone and Thanet the safe havens are run by Mental Health Matters. The Folkestone Safe Haven is run by Hestia and in addition to the CCG is funded by a consortium of Kent based trusts, including the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust.
In Canterbury, Medway, Maidstone and Thanet the phone lines are open from 6pm to 11pm, 365 days a year. Details of numbers are available here: https://www.mhm.org.uk/kent-safe-havens
In Folkestone people can call 0808 1963 569; Monday to Friday: 18:00 - 23:00, and on weekends and bank holidays between 12:00 - 23:00. More details available here: https://www.hestia.org/folkestone-and-hythe-district
There is no formal referral process to this service – it is important that they are open to all without a need for referral.