Doncaster hospital not 'at surge capacity' with Covid-19 patients

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Hospitals in Doncaster have not moved into surge capacity stage but high levels of staff sickness means any large influx of new Covid-19 patients would add serious strain to resources, the trust’s top boss has said.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals chief executive, Richard Parker, said around 180 patients were in hospital with Covid-19.

Despite a fall from a peak of around 220 in October and November, Mr Parker said pressure is ‘slightly higher’ on intensive care beds.

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Speaking to councillors at a recent health and wellbeing board meeting, Mr Parker also said that the hospital has ‘daily challenges’ with the amount of oxygen in the system but this is being ‘managed successfully’.

Doncaster Royal InfirmaryDoncaster Royal Infirmary
Doncaster Royal Infirmary

The trust chief added that there had been an ‘significant increase’ in the demand for oxygen therapy, rather than ventilation because treatment options have changed and health care staff treat patients earlier with high flow oxygen.

Hospitals are continuing to provide non-Covid-19 care for emergency, urgent and cancer treatments but Mr Parker said that a number of patients are waiting longer for planned operations and the faster Covid-19 rates are driven down, the faster these procedures can start up again.

“If our position were to deteriorate further then the pressure would rise. The pressure is slightly higher at the moment now than it was in October/November on the intensive care beds,” Mr Parker said.

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“Whilst we are still within our planning assumptions, we haven’t moved into our surge capacity.

“We still have daily challenges around the amount of oxygen in the system being used and making sure that we’re working within the oxygen tolerances so we don’t slip into any difficulties there and at the moment that’s been successfully managed.

“Staffing remains a really acute problem. The staff are members of the community as well and so we’ve got relatively high sickness absence levels higher than we wouldn’t previously expect at this point in the year.

“That in itself is a real problem, particularly if we have to escalate bed capacity and manage enhanced infection control procedures are a challenge because with Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients.

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“We’ve got to try to make sure that we don’t get any transmissions within the hospital environments. It’s equally important to try to make sure that everything is tight and under control.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.