A number of services postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) are being restored in the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) university hospitals.
The trust is now entering the second phase of its coronavirus response, in which multiple services will be restored in the coming weeks and months.
Teams across the trust have worked hard to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and ensure the safety and quality of service to all patients.
Along with the rest of the NHS, it has been a top priority over the past few months to ensure that anyone who needs help – not just those with the virus – gets it.
To make this possible and to reduce the spread of the virus, some non-urgent operations and appointments have been postponed and other appointments have been arranged in other ways, for example via telephone and video clinics.
The trust has already started to see some of the patients waiting for urgent elective procedures, including endoscopy, dermatological surgery, and daily operations for procedures that support cancer pathways such as infusions.
Outpatient and surgical services in ophthalmology will be restored, as will orthopedic surgery, ultrasound and X-ray services in Ulverston, home obstetrics and colposcopy clinics.
Over the next few weeks, the trust plans to restore the rest of its routine work, including work in clinical examination units, outpatient stroke and frailty services, breast examination services, and virtual fracture clinics.
Telephone and video clinics will continue as far as possible so that patients do not have to drive to the hospital unnecessarily.
Outpatient appointments are usually still offered via telephone or video conference.
Cancer treatments continued throughout the pandemic, with the exception of screening (breast, colon, and cervical cancer), colonoscopy (routine and surveillance), gastrointestinal tract, and some other cancer pathway exams. The trust will gradually restore some of these services over the coming weeks, with colorectal cancer screening reopening.
Clinicians across the trust are currently reviewing patients waiting for an appointment in the light of national guidelines to determine who should be offered an appointment now and who can be postponed to a later date. The plans are being developed in collaboration with Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria's Integrated Care System to ensure that all patients in the region have fair and equal access to care.
The trust has also taken measures to support the safety of employees, patients and visitors who need to visit its community hospitals and facilities. These measures ensure that patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases continue to be cared for in certain areas of the trust.
Patients who are waiting for a scheduled surgery will need to isolate themselves for 14 days prior to hospitalization and will be tested for coronavirus before their intervention, according to the Trust's policy, to test all patients at admission or before surgery.
Hand washing facilities and hand gels are available in all of the Trust's main hospitals and community facilities, and the schedules for improved cleaning of public areas have been expanded. Relevant stations were checked to ensure that there were at least two meters between the beds in order to enable social distance. Everyone who visits the UHMBT websites must wear a face mask and employees must wear face masks. Further information can be found under the following link: https://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/use-face-coverings-when-coming-hospital
Testing of symptomatic employees and family members will continue in accordance with current guidelines, and additional capacity is available to enable routine testing of frontline role employees who are symptom-free and support measures to prevent and control infection.
Access to antibody tests is also available to trust employees. So far, 8,783 employees have registered to participate in the initiative. This will help improve understanding and knowledge of coronavirus and inform the clinical approach. Strict antibody tests and tests for COVID-19 also take place in nursing homes and nursing homes.
Kate Maynard, Interim Director of Operations at UHMBT, said: “Throughout the pandemic, our top priority has been to ensure that all patients in need of care have received the treatment and care they need.
“We are now able to carefully and safely restore some of the services that we had to delay because our teams have focused on the COVID-19 response.
“We would like to thank our patients and their families for their understanding and patience in this extremely challenging time. We also want to reassure everyone that security and infection prevention measures are at the heart of our plans to reintroduce services. "