Last Friday, I met virtually with Tracy Taylor, the Chief Executive, and Eric Morton, the Chair of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and other Nottinghamshire MPs. These meetings serve as an important opportunity for me to pick up on and raise local issues and feedback to Ministers where appropriate.
I was pleased to learn that there has been a gradual decline in COVID-19 patients and a significant drop in ICU patients with this virus, although the Trust remains prepared in case of a second spike.
The main focus of this meeting was restoration and recovery. It will be a relief for many to learn that the Trust is working hard on plans to bring back services and operations in a safe and considered way. While the hospital has quite rightly prioritised and performed excellently on cancer – with 1,000 cancer operations performed since the start of the lockdown - and other urgent operations throughout this pandemic, it is crucial that more aspects of health are now phased back in.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a tragedy and the scale of the challenge for our local healthcare services and staff cannot be underestimated. All of our healthcare providers have responded with dedication, flexibility and creativity and have learned new ways of working from the demands of this crisis that will improve regional healthcare in the future.
The Trust’s system of seeing outpatients virtually was set up in only four weeks and this has proved an enormous success. Crucially, the collaborative response by the local authority and healthcare providers has also meant substantial system improvements that will benefit us all.
I know that many of you may be worried about the long-term financial implications of coronavirus spending on our hospitals. In this meeting, I was assured that there would be no lasting impact on normal services. The Government has been extremely responsive and has provided the Trust with the necessary additional coronavirus-related funding it has needed to ensure it could manage with the increased numbers of patients. An example of this is national funding they received to increase the capacity of the hospitals oxygen supply, which is needed at the bedsides of critically ill patients; this improvement, made at pace for this pandemic, will benefit the Trust and its patients in the years ahead.
This meeting was also an opportunity to discuss upgrades to our local healthcare infrastructure. I was pleased to be provided with an update on the timetable for the reconfiguration of our City hospitals. Work with clinical teams is underway and the Trust will soon be able to share plans of what the future for both the City and QMC will look like with improved facilities, work which is expected to be completed by 2028. I’m also delighted that excellent progress is being made on the new National Rehabilitation Centre within Stanford Hall, with the public consultation starting before the end of July.
It was a positive meeting, given the circumstances, and I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to our local healthcare workers for their bravery and hard work.