Norfolk hospital preparing for second coronavirus wave in late September, meeting hears
PUBLISHED: 16:41 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:12 06 August 2020
Bosses at Norfolk’s largest hospital are pushing to be part of a roll-out of 90-minute coronavirus tests, as they say they are preparing for a second wave towards the end of September.
Chris Cobb, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s chief operating officer, gave an update to the board of trustees on Wednesday on its preparations, including possible additional tests to give them an advantage in identifying the virus in colder months.
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The hospital has been Covid-free for more than a month, with its last positive coronavirus case seen on June 30. Currently there is one patient recovering in hospital after having the virus.
Mr Cobb said recurrences of coronavirus cases in greater Manchester and areas of Europe indicated a second wave of the virus was likely to occur any time between now and winter.
He told the meeting: It’s fair to say we are absolutely planning for a second wave to kick in around about the end of September, beginning of October. The only thing we haven’t figured out yet is what will the volume of that look like.
“At the moment what we get [from Public Health England figures] for Norfolk is a very positive position. My problem with that is we have just seen greater Manchester asymptomatically export Covid-19 to Turkey, well if it can export it to Turkey it can export it down the A1 and take a sharp left.”
More: Hospital starts preparation plans in case of coronavirus ‘winter wave’
The hospital is currently preparing a report into how it coped during the pandemic and will release the findings in September.
Mr Cobb said he hoped the hospital would be helped by new coronavirus tests which aim to deliver results in 90 minutes.
The hospital has signed up as a path finder trust for home elective testing programme, which will start from August 10.
The chief operating officer said: “That is going to mean all of our elective patients who are coming in for treatment will be tested at home and won’t put pressure on our own labs throughout winter. That will give our lab capacity a huge boost that we will be able to test only the inpatients, and/or our staff... Rather than all the patients who are coming in for elective work, that is huge.
“I am working on the principle that this hospital always has a difficult first week after the October half term irrespective of what is going on in the world because coughs and sniffles are introduced.
“We are pushing very hard with the NHS to make sure we are the fore front of point of care testing rollout here.”
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Earlier in the meeting, NNUH chief executive Sam Higginson told the board of directors the NHS faced challenges over the next few months.
Mr Higginson said: “We know the number of patients we have waiting for a long period of time is growing. We are now increasingly looking at what can we do to get as much of our capacity open as quickly as possible to help treat some of those patients. But it is going to be a real challenge to balance that with potentially increase in patients with coronavirus as we head into the autumn.”
He also praised the community and hospital’s staff for “sticking to protocols” through basic infection control such as washing hands.
He said: “I can’t emphasise that enough because if you look at what has come out from Manchester this week, one of the things that seems to have happened is by more and more of public and staff wearing masks some of the basic infection control procedures have slipped a bit, so it is really important we keep our guard up.”
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