The Chesterfield Royal Hospital has been backing the ‘Here to Help’ campaign, designed to encourage you to use the Trust’s services when you need them to look after your health.
As the pandemic progressed, there was a national decline in people accessing emergency services, including the Royal’s Emergency Department (ED) and Royal Primary Care. This was partly out of concern that they may be exposing themselves to COVID-19 or because they didn’t want to trouble health services during the pandemic.
The Royal has worked very hard to ensure it is safe for those who need it and has been encouraging people to access services if that is what they would normally do. We spoke to our Director of Nursing and Patient Care Lynn Andrews (pictured, above) to explain more and reassure you that we are, and always have been, here to help…
“Measures to protect you…”
“First and foremost, I would urge anyone with a health condition that would normally use our ED to be reassured that you can do so in safety. We have introduced a number of measures to protect you, our colleagues and greatly minimise the risk of transmission.
“From the very beginning we reorganised our ED, splitting it into two sections. Anyone coming through our ED front door was immediately assessed and those who were suffering from related COVID -19 symptoms were treated in our ‘Red Zone’. All other patients were treated in our ‘Green Zone’. Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) continues to be worn by staff in both areas; this means that we have, and continue to see all patients whilst taking all reasonable precautions to keep our patients safe.
“This split is still in place but, in response to a gradual reduction in the number of patients being triaged to the ‘Red Zone’, we have changed the size of each zone to enable us to treat more non-COVID related patients. This optimises the number of people we can treat in each area and we know we can flex these areas up or down quickly depending on what happens next and how we see the COVID pandemic situation developing.
“You may have seen in the news, and if you have visited the hospital then it can’t have escaped your notice, that everyone in the hospital is now required to wear a face covering. This is a fairly recent development and has been introduced nationally following a change in the science and understanding of the virus, suggesting that it would reduce the risk of transmission further still.
“This means that if you come to the Royal, you will see a face mask station at all of our entrances. We have also increased our hand sanitisers/gel stations so you can clean your hands with hand gel. In line with national guidance, we are asking visitors and those attending the Trust for outpatient appointments to wear face coverings. If you don’t already have one with you, you will be provided with a face mask at these stations too. If you are here for a clinical appointment that requires a different face mask as part of your treatment then don’t worry, this will be provided for you. I have spent time at these entrances and it’s really good to see how all those coming into the Trust are happy to follow this guidance.
“You do not need to be concerned about any of this, in fact you should be reassured. It is not in response to any kind of new outbreak or incident at the hospital, it’s being followed by all hospitals in the UK. It should provide you with the visual reassurance and practical measures to protect you, our staff and our patients from any risk of transmission as we all try to contain the virus and take those first cautious steps to restoring services.
Here to Help
“I say ‘first steps’ but many of our services have been running safely throughout these unusual times. We have been treating urgent cancer referrals, I’ve already mentioned how our ED has changed its way of working to see patients in as close to normal circumstances as possible and of course our Maternity and Midwifery team have continued to bring new life into the world.
“Our outpatient teams have introduced telephone and virtual video clinics and whilst, in some cases where the clinical need arises, seeing patients face to face. Our Imaging team has also been performing their diagnostic tests during these unprecedented times. Of course planned and elective procedures have been postponed and rebooked to allow us to prioritise and keep these essential services running but we are in the early stages of planning towards reintroducing some of these appointments.
“Reintroducing services such as planned and elective care will be a slower process than our very swift actions in redesigning, postponing and closing services. We need to bring services back in a much more controlled manner and assess the way it impacts other safety measures, such as social distancing and our own infection control procedures, before we look at reintroducing other services. We consider and assess the impact of every decision very carefully and your safety, and that of our patients and staff, is paramount in considering the next steps.
“Everything within our power…”
“Right now what I’m offering you is our reassurance that we have done everything within our power to make sure the hospital is safe if you need to come here. We have an incredibly efficient and diligent Infection Prevention and Control team who are very well versed in just this type of behaviour. It is common practice for NHS Trusts to work hard at all time to protect you from infection whether it’s seasonal flu, norovirus or any community based infection…it’s just not always quite so visual. We work constantly to keep the hospital clean and safe to protect everyone, what you can see is the extra measures we’ve taken to make absolutely certain that the risk of transmission is minimised and as low as possible.
“Of course we’re here to help but we also need you to help us in a very straightforward way. Our ask is that you respect our face mask guidance at all times and watch out for others by keeping to the two metre social distancing guidelines that we will continue to adhere to. We’re introducing a system of directing footfall through the hospital in busier areas and asking that you keep to the left of our corridors and in single file wherever possible to help with this social distancing. It’s the kind of thing you’ve probably already experienced in supermarkets and shops so it’s nothing new, but for us it will help our preparations as we reintroduce services and the increase in people that will come as a result.
“Everything we do and every decision we make is with your continued safety in mind. The overarching message here is that if you need treatment and would normally seek our services then we’re here for you. Your GP is also there for you and you will see another very interesting article about how our Royal Primary Care GP surgeries have adopted the same approach to keep services accessible by clicking here. Similarly you can call 111 for advice if you’re uncertain or visit your local pharmacy. We’re all working together to keep you safe and healthy and we’re here for you when you need us.”