Hospitals looking to the future as Covid numbers drop

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said preparations for the winter began in March Picture: SARA

ESNEFT chief Nick Hulme said that the hospitals were looking forward towards recovery - Credit: Archant

Some of our region's hospitals are starting to look at bringing back elective surgeries as Covid patient numbers continue to drop. 

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said that the current situation had allowed them to begin to look forward. 

"The numbers are going in the right direction in terms of both the new Covid patients we are seeing coming through A+E and the pressure on ITU," said Mr Hulme. 

"As a hospital we are starting to turn our minds to recovery and restoring our services."

Among these services will be elective surgery.

"We are looking at how we can start our outpatient and elective surgery," said Mr Hulme.

"Clearly there will be a longer wait for many people and we will prioritise people."

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Mr Hulme said the hospitals would not be prioritising people on the time they had been waiting, which was previously the case. 

"Clearly we now need to prioritise people based on their clinical need and the impact of a longer wait on their clinical condition," said Mr Hulme. 

"That does mean that sadly people will be waiting longer."

Mr Hulme said that it would be a tricky balancing act for the hospitals going forward in terms of providing elective care but being wary not to have too many people in the hospital.

"We are obviously desperate to get our elective patients seen," said Mr Hulme. 

"We've got to balance that against the risk of footfall in the organisation. 

"We are carefully thinking about how we could extend the day and how we could schedule the outpatients differently so that not everybody is turning up at the same time."

Mr Hulme said that some virtual consultations would continue as their flexibility had proved popular.

Despite the positive news, Mr Hulme continue to call for people to take caution, adding that the hospital would continue to monitor infection levels closely.

He said that there were still currently over 100 patients being treated at both sites with 25 patients in ITUs.  

"It hasn't completely gone away by any means," said Mr Hulme. 

"I think the worry is that we get complacent if we are not careful.

"Keeping the good practice that everybody has delivered is really important."