People needing urgent medical help are being reassured that the Royal United Hospital in Bath is open and able to provide essential care as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
While anyone with coronavirus symptoms is advised to stay at home and not go to a hospital, RUH Medical Director Dr Bernie Marden says most services are running as usual and that people with no coronavirus symptoms should still seek help if they need it.
He said: “People are still having accidents, strokes, heart attacks and so on. We have organised the hospital in a way that makes us confident we can still provide the same level of care for all our patients.
“We are still very much a functioning, active general hospital providing all the services that people expect us to provide at any hour of the day or night. Nobody should be worried about coming here if they need to.”
The public is advised to follow the same processes – using the emergency number 999, the non-emergency number 111 and pharmacists in the usual way.
The hospital is particularly keen to reassure parents that they should not hesitate to seek help if their child is ill.
They should follow guidelines and call NHS 111 if their child has any symptom that they are worried about, whether they think this relates to coronavirus or not.
Dr Marden said: “I know how worried parents can be when their child becomes unwell. It’s therefore really important that they understand that we are here for them and that they seek help as soon as they are concerned.”
The Children’s Ward has created a dedicated COVID-19 area with its own entrance and special staffing system, meaning patients can receive the care they need and that staff and patients in other parts of the ward are protected.
Paediatricians have drawn up guidelines with information about what steps to take if your child becomes unwell or has an accident. These include when to go to A&E or call 999, when to call your GP, and when to check with NHS 111 or a community pharmacist. You can read more here.
Dr Marden said the RUH Trust had planned for coronavirus for several months, and that the hospital was well prepared.
A new Respiratory Assessment Unit has been opened to admit suspected COVID-19 patients, a new 14-bed intensive care unit is under construction in a former orthopaedic ward, and this Easter weekend oncology services are moving from the RUH to the independent Circle Bath hospital in Peasedown St John.
Dr Marden said that the Trust was confident in its supply of personal protection equipment and was well-connected with the NHS supply chain. It was being used to maximise protection for staff and patients.
Dr Marden paid tribute to RUH staff who have “risen to the challenge” of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “What has been overwhelming is the way in which our staff have responded. Whatever their role is in the organisation, this has affected everybody.
“Our teams are finding completely new and innovative ways to help patients such as video or telephone consultations. The level of flexibility and resilience has been impressive. They have also really been there for each other.
“Often we forget those behind the scenes such as cleaners and porters – but they are also rising to occasion, taking on different roles and being flexible.
“It brings into sharp focus the values that we hold here, which everyone is living in abundance at the moment.
“The Trust is looking after our hard-working staff in a number of ways. Counselling and psychology services are available, we have a Thank You board that displays messages of support from the public, and care packages of items including snacks and toiletries donated by the public are being distributed to teams across the hospital by our charity The Forever Friends Appeal.
“Finally I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone in the community who has shown us such support. It’s really humbling. These are challenging times and it’s fantastic to know that so many people are behind us.”