COVENTRY’S University hospital is among two-thirds of NHS trusts in England treating more Covid patients than they did at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.
Professor Andy Hardy, chief executive officer of UHCW NHS Trust today (Wednesday January 20) told the Observer the hospital is currently treating 248 Covid patients, compared to 160 at the peak last spring.
He said: “Of these 248, 45 patients are requiring critical care. Normally we have around 32 critical care beds, we now have 64.
“19 non-Covid patients require critical care also. But we do have more beds open.
“In response to increased demand we are moving staff around the hospital, particularly in critical care, and unfortunately we’ve had to cancel some elective non-urgent planned care.
“We have carried on doing as much work as we can. Cancer treatments and consultations are still going ahead, and we are absolutely still open for all emergencies.
“On one level for all those who work on critical care we will never know just how tough it has been. I get to spend time talking to staff and it’s been enormously challenging, especially the number of staff exposed to the virus and worried about bringing it home to their families.”
Coventry City Council leader George Duggins this week proposed that University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire is granted Freedom of Entry to the City of Coventry to show the city’s gratitude for the ‘incredible work’ of NHS staff.
Prof Hardy said: “It is fabulous news and fantastic recognition for the hard work, dedication and service of each of our 10,000 staff and volunteers committed to delivering outstanding healthcare to our patients.
“After unrelenting pressure for months staff are getting tired and stressed, but the support of the public, the Clap for Carers and now this fantastic news, really makes a difference as well as the positive effect of having a vaccine.”
On December 8 last year 90-year-old Margaret Keen became the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Coventry, launching the NHS’s biggest ever vaccine campaign.
Prof Hardy said: “It was a moment of unparalleled pride to be literally the first centre in the world to deliver the vaccine and we were honoured to be entrusted by the NHS. There’s a clip on one of the TV news channels reporting how around the world on that day in all the different spoken languages, Coventry and Margaret Keenan were centre of the universe.
“Importantly the vaccine is one sure way we can see a way out of this. It will be tough again for the next few weeks before we see a decline.”
He said nearly 8,000 of staff within the trust had now received the vaccine. The hospital has two vaccination clinics on site open 12 hours a day from 8am – 8pm, with future extended hours likely.
Despite the spread of Covid-19, Prof Hardy said the hospital has not seen a big influx of other seasonal diseases such as winter flu. He said: “The same has been seen in Australasia. Actually, we can put this down to what we’ve all been doing in terms of washing hands more and wearing masks.”
Looking at some positives to come out of the Covid crisis, Prof Hardy concluded: “It’s been hard for everyone, but we have seen communities come together in many ways. In a large hospital like our own we have become tighter as an organisation.
“We have also been recognised for scientific advances in Covid-19 research.
“In Coventry we were part of Oxford University’s RECOVERY trial and one of the first organisations to start a ‘long Covid’ clinic back in May. We’re right at the forefront of that challenge and helped to define the national treatment framework.”