KGH chief promises children's ward relocation will be internal - but cannot rule out NGH move if cases rise

Bosses haven't ruled out working with Northampton General Hospital

Sunday, 17th January 2021, 2:21 pm
Updated Monday, 18th January 2021, 10:44 am

Kettering General Hospital has reassured parents who rely on the hospital's children's inpatient services that repurposing the children's ward for adult Covid patients will be temporary.

The plans were revealed to staff members on Skylark Ward last week when they were told that the purpose-built, state-of-the-art children's ward would be stripped for use as an extra respiratory ward.

Yesterday (Saturday) bosses said they were "considering many options" including working with Northampton General Hospital, but that a temporary internal ward move was looking likely.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Today (Sunday) they have issued a further statement confirming that they plan to temporarily move to another ward within the Rothwell Road hospital. Dozens of concerns had been raised by parents, fearing the possibility of a trip to Northampton to receive care for their children.

But bosses say they are unable to completely rule out a move to the county's biggest hospital if Covid cases continue to rise.

A spokesman for KGH said: "Please be assured that we plan to move children from the Skylark ward to another ward within Kettering General Hospital, and not Northampton General Hospital - although we cannot rule this out completely as an option we may need to take if the numbers of patients admitted with Covid increase.

KGH chief executive Eileen Doyle said: “Skylark ward would provide us with 26 adult beds, which will make a major difference in our ability to provide safe, high quality care for the increasing number of people needing hospital treatment for Covid.

Skylark Ward is to be used as an extra respiratory ward for Covid-19 patients

"Over recent weeks we have been caring for an average of six children on Skylark ward – the most has been eight - and these children are not being treated for Covid-19.

"We plan to move children from Skylark ward to either the Maple or Poplar ward early next week. These two wards are much smaller and would not provide us with the capacity we need right now, which is why moving children to the smaller ward has to be the best and safest option. As soon as we can move children back to Skylark, we will do.

“It’s important that people realise things are very serious right now across all hospitals and it is a harsh reminder of the need for Hands, Face, Space and adhering to lockdown rules. Thank you to everyone who is being as careful as possible. To everyone else, we need your help – this pandemic is real and it is harming people we love and care about.

“The number of people needing hospital treatment for Covid continues to increase, with more patients admitted again in the last 24 hours. Our primary focus is ensuring that patients continue to have access to the safe and high quality care they can expect from us. We need to make sure this is still the case if things continue to get worse and so we are planning ahead and exploring options. These options have included the possibility of working with Northampton General Hospital. We’re not at that point yet, but we cannot rule it out completely if numbers keep rising.

Kettering General Hospital

“Our decisions are being led by clinicians and made on the basis of which option ensures the highest possible level of access to clinical treatment and the highest possible levels of safety and care. Transferring patients and clinical teams off-site is not a move we wish to make, but it could become a possibility if things continue to worsen and it proves to be the best and safest option for our patients.

Skylark Ward, located in the new Foundation Wing, opened in May 2013.

Some parents of children with long-term health plans had been contacted by staff at the hospital to warn them of the move and to prepare to travel to hospitals in Leicester or Northampton. This has since been denied by the trust.

A spokesman for KGH, referring to claims families with long-term care plans have been advised to go to other hospitals for treatment, said: “Please be assured that the only thing that has changed is the ward where children would be cared for if they need us. Everything else remains the same, and families with long-term support arrangements don’t need to go anywhere else.”

Latest figures published on January 14, showed that nine patients with Covid-19 were in KGH's ITU (Intensive Therapy Unit) with 165 patients with Covid-19 in total in the hospital.

The cumulative number of deaths reported has been 360.

Ms Doyle added: "I would add that we have been open in exploring options with many staff and listening to their views and suggestions.

"I am proud to say that they have been very understanding and supportive about the proposal to move children to another ward at Kettering. They recognise we are all in this together and that we need to do what’s right for all our patients.

"Although this will mean a move for our children and members of Skylark’s paediatric team, we will ensure that all goes smoothly and everyone is well looked after throughout.”