Staff redeployed to critical care as Russells Hall treats 200 coronavirus patients

Hospital chiefs in Dudley are redeploying staff to critical care wards which have three times the normal number of patients as a result of coronavirus.

Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley
Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley

At a virtual meeting of Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust board yesterday, senior managers acknowledged the challenges faced by staff at Russells Hall Hospital and repeated their appeal to the public to follow the lockdown rules.

Chief Executive Diane Wake said: "We are dealing with a very high number of Covid patients.

“There are 200 patients in inpatient-led care with Covid as of Thursday morning and there could be more as swab results come back.

“Admissions are running at 25 to 30 per day and within critical care there are 45 patients which is three times the normal capacity of 15.

“We are redeploying staff to critical care - they have been very flexible - and stepping down theatre work has enabled this.

“The most important thing people can do to support the NHS is stay at home and save lives.”

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There has been a rise in Covid cases in Dudley in the past week - from 1,665 to 2,270 - which is consistent with the national trend.

Even more Covid patients are being treated over at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, where the hospital has doubled its critical care capacity to cope with the number of seriously ill coronavirus patients.

Dudley NHS Trust has not converted other wards at Russells Hall Hospital for critical care but there are options to do so, the meeting heard.

“We would use vacant operating theatres for critical care if necessary,” said Diane Wake.

“That would be the next step.”

Neither is the trust proposing the discharge of patients into hotels.

“In some parts of the country this has been considered,” said Diane Wake.

“It is not something we are considering but we may have to - we are coping at the moment.”

In addition to the care of inpatients with Covid, Dudley NHS Trust is one of the first in the country to provide Long Covid clinics to help those suffering with the long-term effects of the illness.

The trust has already seen and assessed more than 500 patients.

As of Thursday 497 people have died at Russells Hall after contracting coronavirus, according to the latest NHS figures.

Yve Buckland, chairperson of the trust, praised its “magnificent” staff.

“We are in unprecedented times,” she said.

“We would like to pay tribute to the outstanding, heroic staff we have within the organisation and the contribution they are making.

“We have some very tired, exhausted staff but they continue to come to work each and every day.

“They are magnificent and we would not be where we are without them.”

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