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CORONAVIRUS: How the NHS is reacting across Kent

Monday 6th April 2020

The NHS across Kent is gearing up to face growing challenges of coronavirus. The newly-established NHS budget-holding Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – all area CCGs across Kent have now amalgamated – says it has taken these steps to provide best-possible care to patients and save lives:

HOSPITALS: All local hospitals have been working with social care partners to discharge medically-fit patients, freeing up more than 1,000 beds out of a total of 2,600 across Kent and Medway. All Kent hospitals have brought their bed occupancy levels down to around 60% - freeing beds for specialist care to virus patients.

STAFFING LEVELS: At the end of last week all Kent NHS services reported adequate staffing levels to maintain priority services, despite significant numbers self isolating with symptoms or in households where another person has symptoms. About 2,000 Kent staff were absent – representing 7.75% of the workforce. (These figures do NOT include primary care, such as GP surgeries).

MENTALLY ILL PATIENTS: A mental health Covid-19 response team has been established. It plans to develop a 24/7 open access to crisis response teams with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. This should result in reduced demand on 111 and 999 services and also reduce attendance at emergency departments, so limiting the risk of spreading the disease. The team is also developing a package of support for NHS staff.

‘HOT’ TREATMENT CENTRES: Patients needing a face-to-face assessment (usually with a GP) and who have virus symptoms will be seen at newly-styled ‘hot’ centres while those without symptoms will be seen still at GP surgeries. To ensure they are seen at the right site all primary care appointments are now pre-booked by phone with no walk-in or on-line self booking. (see separate Daily Downs Mail story).

PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: The CCG says it is working hard to make sure staff on the front line in NHS trusts, primary care and other services such as care homes, hospices and home care providers have access to the right protective equipment. A central Kent warehouse is being mobilised bringing all supplies to a single point to be distributed according to need.

STAFF TESTING: The Government has decided tests must be offered to all NHS staff who are symptomatic. The CCG is now developing plans to ensure this. Staff who do not test positive can carry on providing patient care rather than isolating for seven days.