Cornwall’s health chiefs are still working on a ‘worst case scenario’ with regard to the coronoavirus outbreak but are hoping for a much more positive outcome.
In a recent interview, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust’s (RCHT) chief executive, Kate Shields, said she had been working with the Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust and Cornwall Council to ensure that as many people as possible were treated at home or in other locations in order to maximise the number of beds available for coronavirus patients.
Primary care professionals and GPs around the county have been working hard to treat patients away from hospital and at the end of last week, Treliske had 200 empty beds available with the hospital effectively split into two – one area for Covid-19 patients and another for everyone else.
The number of wards where people can be ventilated has increased and there are 40 anaesthetic machines which are able to ventilate available as well as those at the private Duchy Hospital next door. Other ventilators, currently in use in areas such as London where the coronavirus outbreak is more advanced, are likely to be redeployed to places like the South West as demand for them eases off.
Regarding equipment for staff, Mrs Shields said work was going on to ensure that all parts of the county – and staff in all areas of health and social care – see an equal share of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
There is also an ongoing review of what constitutes the most suitable clothing for individual situations – a staff member may need a gown, gloves and a mask for one patient and a full Haz-Mat suit and visor for another.
One of the scenarios that the RCHT is looking at is the possible loss of staff who may have to self-isolate or if they become ill. The huge response to the recent call for volunteers means that further work is going on in matching up people with different skill sets to the right jobs.
Mrs Shields also praised the support the NHS in Cornwall was getting from local people. They were “awesome” she said.
“People are being absolutely brilliant. We’re all pulling together against the same thing.”