Northamptonshire's two hospitals free up quarter of beds ready for coronavirus sufferers

A huge coordinated effort has gone on over the past two weeks to discharge patients from Kettering and Northampton hospitals to free up capacity for virus patients.

Almost 400 beds have been freed up across the county's two hospitals to make space for expected coronavirus patients.
Almost 400 beds have been freed up across the county's two hospitals to make space for expected coronavirus patients.

The county’s two hospitals have freed up almost 400 beds in readiness for the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

As of 11.30am yesterday morning (April 1) there were 386 empty beds across Northampton General and Kettering General Hospital after existing patients have been discharged to make way for expected high numbers of patients being admitted with the virus. KGH is a 600 bed hospital and NGH has 800 beds which means a quarter of their usual bed capacity was free yesterday morning.

Over the past two weeks the local NHS, adult social services, emergency services and the voluntary sector through the specially set up Northamptonshire Strategic Coordination Centre, has orchestrated the huge coordinated effort.

Toby Sanders has been chairing the Northamptonshire Strategic Coordination Centre.

Chief Executive of NHS Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group Toby Sanders said: “The past couple of weeks have witnessed an extraordinary effort from colleagues across the NHS, social care and the wider public sector to respond to this unprecedented and fast moving situation.

“Thanks to the incredibly hard work of staff at our two acute hospitals, in care homes and out in the community – with support from families and carers – we have been able to safely discharge a great many people to free up hundreds of hospital beds ready for those who will need them most as the peak of COVID-19 infections approaches.

“In the meantime, all agencies are continuing to plan and deliver the right action at the right time to protect and care for the most vulnerable people in our county. We ask that the people of Northamptonshire continue to support this work by following the clear government advice to Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.”

To date 13 people have sadly died in the two acute hospitals from coronavirus. Thrapston chip shop founder Derek Gunn, 91, died on Tuesday (March 31) night. Latest official figures say there are 187 cases in Northamptonshire but the real number is estimated to be significantly higher. It has not been made public how many coronavirus patients the two hospitals are currently caring for.

KGH's chief operating officer Joanna Fawcus has said the partnership working to create bed capacity has been amazing.

The 4,000 capacity Nightingale Hospital has been set up in central London to make additional room as the global virus reaches its peak in the UK. New temporary hospitals are also being set up in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

KGH’s Chief Operating Officer Joanna Fawcus said: “The partnership working across agencies has been amazing and has enabled us to safely discharge many patients from hospital to a more suitable environment.

“My thanks go to the various teams and individuals who have played their part in making this happen and to our patients and their families for their understanding and cooperation, which has helped us to prepare for the expected increase in COVID-19 Patients.”

Deputy Chief Executive at NGH Deborah Needham said: “We have seen fantastic teamwork from the local hospitals and community, all supported by the CCG. This is a challenge which the whole partnership has taken on together, and this work will enable us to gain the required bed spaces for COVID-19 patients.

“We know that hospital discharges can sometimes be difficult for patients and families, however the response we’ve received from our community has been amazing. Thanks to their support, we can make sure patients who no longer need acute care can move to the next step in their recovery.

“There is more work to be done and our teams are ready for that challenge. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone involved. I am very proud and feel privileged to work with a great team and be a part of the NHS.”

Patients safely discharged from hospital as part of the drive to free up hospital beds in the county have either returned home or have transferred to local care homes or into the care of NHS community services.

The Northamptonshire Strategic Coordination Centre’s hospital transfer and capacity team is continuing to make further plans to provide additional capacity as the pandemic progresses.

A media spokesman for the coordination team said as yet hotels were not being used to provide extra capacity, as has been the case in other parts of the country.