Two-week isolation is a ‘big ask’, hospital boss says, amid plans to resume surgeries

PUBLISHED: 12:03 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:56 04 June 2020

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital April 2020 Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital April 2020 Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN


Patients and their households will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days before surgery, as elective procedures begin to resume at Norwich’s main hospital.

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

Chris Cobb, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s (NNUH) chief operating officer, said he knew it was a big ask.

At the start of the pandemic, hospitals were told to postpone all non-urgent operations from April 15 for at least three months and health bosses will now have to begin to catch up. At the start of March, there were just under 75,000 patients waiting to start treatment at Norfolk’s hospitals.

Mr Cobb spoke at the hospital’s board meeting on Wednesday to set out how the trust will reinstate its elective programme, which saw many surgeries suspended during the pandemic.

The officer said national guidance was clear that patients and their households would have to self-isolate for two weeks in the run up to their procedure.

In addition, households will have to test negative for coronavirus in the 48 hours prior to surgery.

More: Hospital coronavirus patients down to five from high of 85

Mr Cobb told the meeting: “That I think is a big ask for lots of people, and already in the trial run of this that we have been able to do at Spire over the last week, we have had many more cancellations on this than we had prior to that guidance being issued.

“It is clearly going to be a challenge for lots of people to maintain that.”

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He told the board three blocks have been marked up as protective areas for elective surgery and pathways tested ahead of the first flow of patients arriving from June 15.

He said: “What we do not want to do as an organisation is put families through 14 days of self-isolation to then cancel on the day for reasons of lack of bed or lack of clear process which supports bringing people in when they have an appointment.”

More: Hospital reduces coronavirus wards as patient numbers fall

Patients exempt from self-isolating for the 14-day period are those admitted for urgent or emergency surgery.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the NNUH was split into yellow and green zones, with yellow wards for confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients.

The hospital has announced many of the zones will disappear by the end of Friday.

Mr Cobb said: “We do not need to have zonings where we have testing areas we just need to have those that have confirmed positive and those that haven’t.”

More: Hospital reduces coronavirus wards as patient numbers fall

As part of its phase to return more services, the hospital has begun preparing wards previously used to treat coronavirus, including Brundall ward.

Patients being treated for coronavirus will be seen at the Cringleford ward, which has always been the hospital’s designated pandemic and outbreak ward, while a new isolation block is being built.

In addition, there will also be more markings detailing two metre social distancing and plastic barriers and the continuation of telephone and video consultation to reduce patients needing to visit the hospital unnecessarily.

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