During the current coronavirus pandemic, it is important that MPs keep in regular touch with the people who run local NHS services to offer any help and support we can to the vital work of front-line staff and to take up with ministers any problems they are experiencing. This week, with fellow Notts MPs, in two separate meetings, I met (virtually) with the leader of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Amanda Sullivan, and also Tracy Taylor, the Chief Executive of Nottingham University Hospitals Trust. The following subjects were discussed:
ICU capacity demand is at a manageable level
I am hugely impressed by the fantastic work of our regional healthcare providers to scale up capacity in intensive care units (ICU), they have tripled the number of available beds and currently are comfortably able to cope with the demand for these beds for COVID-19 patients. To do this at such short notice while under so much pressure is a testament to their incredible talent and hard work.
I was also pleased to learn that COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions have plateaued due to the social distancing efforts of local communities. We must keep this up.
Testing – all patient-facing NHS staff and care workers are being tested within 24 hours
Local health authorities have made coronavirus tests available for all patient-facing NHS staff and care workers and are now rolling this out to include other key workers. All tests are done locally at the three testing sites that have been established in our county, and these tests are also available to family members. This means that many of the key workers currently self-isolating because a family member is displaying symptoms will be able to return to work if the test results are negative.
A fully staffed local call centre has been set up to co-ordinate testing across Nottinghamshire, and the collaborative approach is enabling tests to be turned around in 24 hours. If you work in the NHS, social care or other vital public services and think you would benefit from being tested, then please speak to your line manager.
PPE – local PPE demand is being met
PPE provision has been a matter of concern for many of my constituents who are hearing reports of shortages on the news. I was reassured in this meeting that while there were some early concerns, the national body coordinating PPE has ensured a fair distribution across the country in line with need, and the staff in all our local healthcare providers and care homes are getting enough of the PPE equipment that they need.
Our regional healthcare authorities have also worked with other parts of industry to ensure that we have a backup plan in case there are national shortages. I would like to express my gratitude to all those local businesses and individuals who have taken it upon themselves to begin producing PPE in support of our regional effort.
Future lessons for improved local healthcare
In dealing with the unprecedented challenges brought about by COVID-19, our healthcare providers have uprooted some of their processes, and I was impressed to learn of how they intend to adopt these in normal times to improve our local healthcare services. In particular, the increased use of virtual consultations for non-urgent cases has freed up hospital capacity; there has also been a rapid speeding-up of safe discharges.
The collaborative efforts of Notts CCG, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, our local healthcare providers, and all local communities mean that we are currently on the front foot in dealing with this crisis. The situation could still change, so I will continue to have regular meetings with regional healthcare leaders to offer my support as challenges arise and to ensure that Ministers understand the situation on the ground.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again to all our keyworkers for their dedication, bravery and selflessness in these challenging times.