NHS Providers on coronavirus (25.03.20)

25 March 2020

We need to move towards widespread staff testing for COVID-19

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"Trust leaders are telling us we need to move towards widespread staff testing for Covid-19 as quickly as possible.

"They say very significant numbers of staff are leaving the workforce just when they are needed most, often because of their own symptoms or those of people they live with.

"Having access to testing would allow those who can return to get back to work more quickly, relieving the burden on hard pressed colleagues.

"Alongside this there’s pressure to accelerate and extend patient testing so they get the care they need as quickly as possible, and can be discharged more promptly, easing pressure in hospitals.

"It's encouraging to hear there's progress with the antibody test to identify who's already had the disease.

"That will make a big difference in time, but the immediate focus is on who has Covid-19 now, and the reality is that despite the push to expand testing, it’s not going to be sufficient to cover patients and a significant number of the NHS's 1.2 million staff.

"National NHS leaders need to be clearer about this, and about the relative priority that should be given to patient and staff testing.

"In doing this they need to talk to trust leaders who are responsible for leading and supporting frontline staff on whom the NHS will depend in the coming months."


Urgent clarification needed on personal protective equipment

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

"Ensuring NHS staff have confidence in the equipment they work with is an absolute priority for trust leaders.

"They can not stress enough the importance of getting the right equipment to the right place in sufficient quantities in good time.

"Although we see continuing concerns it’s evident there has been some improvement over the last few days.

"But trust leaders want urgent clarification about the recent change in guidance on personal protective equipment from Public Health England.

"In particular they need more information about the reasons behind that change, and a more detailed explanation setting out why the new provisions are sufficient and appropriate."


Explosion in COVID-19 pressures in London

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"We have seen an explosion in demand over the past few days in London and it’s clear that trusts in the capital are now at the sharp end of tackling the outbreak.

"They have adapted how they work at great speed to ensure that they can manage the huge influx of very unwell patients that have come through the doors.

"There has been an enormous push to discharge patients safely and quickly and expand capacity for patients with COVID-19.

"We welcome the setting up of the 4,000 bed hospital in the Excel centre and the fact that this can be established so quickly is down to the existing coordination expertise and structure of our health service.

"However as pressure continues to intensify, it is vital that trusts have access to all of the personal protective equipment that their frontline staff need to keep themselves and their patients safe.

"We also need to see more done to extend testing to staff and speed up the turnaround time for results."


Trusts are working flat out to increase critical care capacity

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, saffron Cordery, said:

"Critical care capacity is a major pinch point and one of the biggest concerns for our members, who tell us they are genuinely concerned about how they will cope.

"London is seeing the sharpest increase in pressures, but trusts across the country are working flat out to prepare for the coming surge in demand for care.

"Trust leaders tell us there are still major concerns about the availability of ventilators and other vital equipment.

"We have been assured by national leaders that a significant number of additional ventilators are arriving within the next week.


Volunteers reflect loyalty and goodwill towards the NHS

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"The NHS is fortunate to have a huge, existing volunteer base that we know is already providing vital support to the frontline.

"We very much welcome the launch of this initiative to recruit an additional 250,000 to support the response to the outbreak.

"The response we have seen so far reflects the huge sense of loyalty and goodwill the NHS continues to command.

"Trust leaders have reported to us many examples of kindness and compassion from the public and their local communities.

"They are hugely appreciated at this difficult time."

Hotel closures add to NHS staffing pressures

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

"A number of chief executives have flagged to us that hotels that were being used for staff to stay in have closed.

"These hotels have enabled some staff whose family members have Covid-19 symptoms to keep on working.

"The search is on to identify alternative hotels, but this is an added pressure at a difficult time."



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