Hospital staff could feel Covid impact ‘for three years’

PUBLISHED: 12:58 04 November 2020 | UPDATED: 07:13 05 November 2020

Sam Higginson, cheif executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH

Sam Higginson, cheif executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH


Hospital bosses have warned staff could feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the next three years.

Chris Cobb, chief operating officer at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Pic: ArchantChris Cobb, chief operating officer at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Pic: Archant

The stark message came during the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust board meeting on November 3 as the country prepares for a second national lockdown and the hospital prepares for a rise of infections.

Speaking for the staff, Paul Jones, chief people officer for the trust, said: “The pandemic is creating a lingering legacy which we may see for the next two to three years.”

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick ButcherThe Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

He added staff were experiencing mental health issues due to the first wave of Covid-19 infections.

“We are starting to see incidents of physical conditions of people who were sick in March and April including fatigue and neurological conditions. We are setting up solutions to support people,” said Mr Jones.

Chief executive of the board, Sam Higginson, said: “We had a very intense March, April and June. Staff got some kind of a break but we are asking them to step up again to what will be a challenging period.”

He promised funding for psychological support to help hospital staff.

MORE: Covid infections keep falling in Norwich but are rising elsewhere

The meeting was also told that 30 former health workers had so far signed up for the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership reservist project, part of the national NHS Reservists project.

They would help during a second wave of the pandemic as well as give flu jabs to trust employees.

As well as volunteers, overseas healthcare workers are also being recruited to support staff.

Mr Higginson said there were currently 11 positive Covid-19 patients in the hospital compared with 85 in April, when cases peaked at the hospital.

And despite rates being low in Norfolk - around 100 per 100,000 people - compared with the rest of the country, the chief executive expected cases to rise.

He added: “A lot of our attention is going towards preparing for the second wave. We have a robust plan.”

MORE: Army of reservists, oxygen for 300 patients: N&N gets ready for second wave

This included splitting the hospital into three sections, a new oxygen facility and using its new ward block which would help non-coronavirus patients including stroke patients.

Mr Higginson was optimistic about how the hospital was prepared.

Chris Cobb, chief operation officer for the trust, said the hospital was focussed on continuing elective surgeries and cancer treatment.

He said the hospital had the ability to continue this even if it was used as a surge centre for coronavirus patients from other hospitals.

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