NHS organisations across Devon are sharing their resources and expertise to manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, prepare for winter and keep essential services running.
As COVID-19 infections rise, health and social care partners are preparing for an increase in patients with the virus at hospitals in coming months.
The most recently published data show 517 confirmed cases in Devon with hospital admissions increasing.
Devon’s four main hospitals* will work closely as a network to manage resources in the most effective way to deliver a range of services as safely as possible.
While all four hospitals will continue to see and treat patients with COVID-19 who present in their Emergency Departments, they are working together to share their inpatient capacity if it is deemed medically appropriate.
This may mean in some cases, to receive the most appropriate care, patients may be cared for in, or transferred to, a different hospital. This will allow the NHS in Devon to do all it can to treat COVID patients at the same time as continuing to provide planned and urgent care. The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter is also on standby, ready to receive COVID-19 patients, if needed.
Rob Dyer, Lead Medical Director for Devon, explained: “We will continue to provide as much as we can as locally as possible, but by being flexible we have a chance of balancing keeping essential services running – such as community services, important diagnostics and routine surgery – whilst also treating patients with COVID- 19.”
Doctors are also calling on local people to do play their part by keeping their appointments and choosing the right service for their needs.
Dr Dyer added: “Our simple advice to the public is to attend all NHS appointments you are invited to. Although we are seeing increase numbers of cases of COVID-19, the NHS is still open and safe and people that need care should continue to attend.
“We also need people to choose the right service for their needs. People should continue to call 999 and attend the A&E Departments if they believe they have a serious illness, for example if they or a loved one see the signs of stroke, severe chest pain or worsening asthma.
“However, we are seeing waiting times increase at A&E departments and many people who are attending could get the help they need from other local services, such as 111 or their local GP.”
In light of the rising number of cases, local hospitals are also having to introduce tighter visiting restrictions to keep patients and staff safe.
And the NHS is reminding local people that they need to play their part by continuing to follow Government’s ‘hands, face, space’ guidance on good hygiene, wearing a mask where needed, social distancing and limiting the number of people they meet with.