Hospital starts preparation plans in case of coronavirus ‘winter wave’

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

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

Hospital bosses say they will learn lessons from the coronavirus pandemic as they prepare for a potential second wave in winter.

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital April 2020 Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital April 2020 Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Chris Cobb, chief operating officer for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said at the trust’s board meeting on Wednesday that work was under way to ensure it could treat the virus in addition to winter pressures.

He told members that the hospital’s pandemic flu plan had been a good exercise to prepare for the first wave of positive cases when the hospital ran through it two and half months before the outbreak began.

He said while the virus was not like pandemic flu, the trust would spend between now and October focusing on its coronavirus and winter plans.

Mr Cobb said: “We are planning very firmly on the fact that if nothing else on October 1, it is very likely we will be facing a mimic problem, if not an actual wave two problem with this.

“Once people start to cough and sneeze and splutter naturally for things like the common cold or other ailments of that type - it is already very difficult for people to distinguish those symptoms until we have the proper tests to discern if you are positive or negative.”

The chief operating officer stressed the virus was not going away.

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When asked about plans incase of a second wave he said aspects such as separated areas would be implemented in a similar way.

He said: “We didn’t get everything right, we learnt a number of things that if we could take ourselves back into mid-April we would have done completely differently.

“We did catch a number of our staff out this time round in the speed we enacted things which were necessary, but actually were delivered at a pace which made it exceptionally hard for some people to put into practice. The fundamentals will be the same but some modifications on what we have learnt from this time round we would like to feed into it.”

With the reintroduction of elective surgeries and A&E levels rising to numbers last seen pre-Covid, the officer said it was important the hospital made the most of the opportunity. Mr Cobb said: “It isn’t restoration it is reaffirmation. We are trying to make sure everyone is seeing that and we do not rush things back into the same shape that it was before. Where that shape was clunky and wasn’t necessarily benefitting patients there is an opportunity to refine that and make that better for all concerned.”

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