Ipswich Hospital outlines plans for routine surgery if second coronavirus wave develops
Elective treatment will continue at Ipswich Hospital if and when a second wave of coronavirus develops this autumn or winter, according to a senior hospital planner.
Dr Shane Gordon, of Ipswich Hospital, told Ipswich Borough Council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday night that preparations were well underway for a second spike of Covid-19 cases.
But the director of strategy, research and innovation at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said the increased preparation time meant more services would continue as normal.
He said: “We know there is a second wave coming.
“We have seen already in countries around the world that as soon as you take your foot off social distancing cases start to grow again, and we are coming into winter where the transmission of those viral infections is higher.
“We are planning for the second wave but this time we are planning to do it without stopping the elective services, which I think with the longer planning time we have had now will be much more successful and much better for patients.”
Elective and non-emergency procedures had to be halted when the coronavirus lockdown began in March in order to create capacity for Covid-19 patients – a decision in line with NHS England directives.
But the longer preparation time for a second spike compared to the relatively short warnings in March mean the trust will be able to better facilitate those patients this time around.
Dr Gordon said that “all of our services returned by the end of August” but had left a significant backlog of routine and elective procedures, which the hospital was now having to address.
Patients who will have to wait longer than the target 18 weeks will be informed by letter, according to Dr Gordon, but said that efforts were being made to accommodate more procedures per day than previously to help catch up.
That backlog is understood to be in line with other trusts nationwide.
Elsewhere, Dr Gordon said the trust has “increased the bed base at Ipswich Hospital significantly” and added: “We are investing £1.2million in a same-day emergency care unit to reduce the number of people who need to be admitted when they are unwell.”