The Trust that runs north Cumbria’s hospitals and community services have made significant plans across their services to prepare for winter. Comprehensive and ambitious winter plans are in place to support and prepare for the expected increase in activity over the winter months. This year is expected to be particularly difficult due to the added pressure of COVID-19.
Anna Stabler, chief nurse said: “Winter planning is always a significant piece of work for the NHS however this year COVID-19 has added a further complication to the mix. We have had to think differently in north Cumbria as have Trusts across the country.
“Our plans and the additional government funding that we have received means we are in a good position ahead of the expected increase in need for our services over the winter months.”
The Trust winter plans link with the local health system plans and the national NHS plan which specifically looks at three themes of Access, Flu and Pressures.
Each element of the Trust’s winter plan links with one of the national themes and will enable the public to better access services and know when to access services, they will enable the Trust to prepare and deal with an increase in pressure and will support everyone to understand the importance of getting the flu jab.
The Trusts plans hope to enable services to continue to deliver high quality care and that everyone is able to get the right care at the right time in the right place.
The Trusts winter plan focusses on seven main areas; spanning the Trust’s acute and community services and incorporates partnership working with health and social care partners:
- Making sure that people are only in hospital when they need to be and ensuring discharges are planned well with our partners.
- Maintaining emergency surgery and ensuring as little disruption as possible to routine operations.
- Making sure that people who come to the A&E departments are seen quickly and by a specialist in a timely way.
- Getting children seen quickly and enabling parents to stay with their children if they need to stay in hospital.
- Making sure that people are supported to stay independent and avoid hospital stays
- Have robust plans in place to deal with an increase in COVID-19 patients who require hospital treatment and support those recovering at home.
- Utilising the workforce well to be able to deliver the plans and make sure north Cumbria is a place of choice for those seeking work in the NHS.
Working together these plans will ensure that patient flow is maintained and an increase in activity can be managed and staffed effectively.
They include innovative working across our community services to help people avoid a hospital admission and supporting people to access support closer to where they live as well as using technology to bring services into their homes.
Anna said: “In our two main hospitals – the Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital we have introduced the ‘Same Day Emergency care’ teams which specialises in providing care to adults presenting with Medical and Surgical emergencies that can be investigated and treated on the same day. By doing this patients are less likely to require admission.
“The Trust has also embedded the national discharge planning methodology; ‘Why not home? Why not today?’ A series of dedicated discharge planning meetings involving partners from health and social care will ensure that every patient’s needs can be met in a timely way to support their discharge. This is a health and care system wide way to support patients to receive the right care in the right place and is supported by the county council and the third sector.”
The Trust has put in place strict restrictions in the theatre pathways to ensure the hospital operating theatres remain COVID free. This and support from independent providers gives the ability to deliver a regular programme of elective care through winter and help reduce the waiting times that have increased due to COVID-19.
Anna continued: “From a workforce perspective we are supporting our newly qualified staff to become established in their teams by utilising agency staff while we continue our recruitment campaign to fill our vacancies. We actively support agency staff to take up permanent posts and we are continuing to support all health care assistant to undertake their care certificate so we are confident they are trained to the highest standard of care for our patients.
“We have looked at the challenges we will face this winter and have introduced ways in which we can best meet them. Of course nothing is perfect and we can’t predict the future but I hope we have put ourselves in the best position we can.
“We always need the public to help us with the challenge of winter; everyone can play their part and we are also supporting the regional #Doyourbit campaign. It aims to help the general public understand which NHS service is right for their needs. The campaign asks everyone to ‘do their bit’ and use NHS services wisely; call 111 first, visit your pharmacy and make sure that A&E is used only for serious injuries and life threatening conditions only.”