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. Please help protect the NHS by following all the national guidance on social distancing. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
A huge effort is underway with the NHS mobilising to change the way that hospitals and GP practices run, freeing up hospital beds, bringing in more staff and ventilators, getting protective equipment to where it is needed and ramping up testing.
The NHS has to deliver care in new ways to deal with the pandemic. Some changes across Kent and Medway include:
- Boosting critical care capacity. We have already delivered a massive increase in local critical care capacity. All of our hospital trusts will have tripled their critical care beds by within just a few weeks.
- Medically fit patients have been rapidly discharged from hospitals. Working with social services, care homes, home care providers, GPs and community health services we have discharged a significant number of medically fit people from hospital beds in the last week. These people will be provided with support either in their own homes or in care homes. The aim is for all hospitals to reach 70% bed occupancy.
- Non-urgent surgery is being postponed. Theatres are being converted to provide more critical care beds with ventilators.
- Outpatient appointments are being shifted to phone, video or online consultations. Some appointments will be postponed but where possible we are shifting to remote consultations and already between 60-80% of outpatient appointments are being done remotely.
- Hospital trusts with more than one site are making/considering temporary changes to the location of some essential services. This is part of expanding capacity to treat patients affected by the virus while maintaining vital services for other vulnerable patients.
- From next week East Kent Hospitals are making alternative arrangements for Stroke services to move to Kent and Canterbury Hospital. From mid-April Cancer surgery will also be provided at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital or local private hospitals (no cost), depending on the type of surgery needed.
- From 30 March stroke rehabilitation inpatients at Maidstone Hospital will move to the KIMS Hospital in Maidstone.
This situation will remain under review throughout the NHS response to coronavirus. These are temporary measures and not early implementation of long-term reorganisations.
- General Practice teams are reducing the number of ‘walk-in patients’ by using telephone/online appointment booking and triage and moving to telephone and video consultations. We are rolling out computers and software to GPs across Kent and Medway to allow them run phone/video consultations whilst working from home so doctors and nurses who are self-isolating or sick with mild symptoms can continue to provide care.
- Some Primary Care Networks (groups of GP surgeries working together) are splitting care across different sites. This means some sites seeing patients with suspected or confirmed covid-19 and other sites aiming to remain virus free. Practices within networks will also support each other if individual practices need to close due to staff shortages.
- A community support service is helping GPs care for patients who are stuck at home. The service is helping people who are self-isolating with covid-19 symptoms and/or vulnerable people shielding themselves from the virus but still in need of care for other conditions. The national requirement to commission similar services was withdrawn but we have continued to roll out a variation of these services across Kent and Medway.
- A community testing service has been set up using clinically trained CCG staff. This will help test patients and staff and crucially help to allow clinical staff with negative tests to come back to work more quickly.
- Independent sector hospital beds and staff are being sourced both to provide care for Covid-19 patients and to allow other urgent services to continue.
- A central warehousing and distribution model for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being established. This will co-ordinate distribution of PPE across all frontline health and care providers. We have already been successfully co-ordinating mutual aid across hospitals and other services when current stocks have run low.
Our intention is to publish updates on a weekly basis.