Hello and welcome to this week's message. I wanted to update you on COVID-19 (Coronavirus), which as you know is a frequently changing situation.
Firstly and very importantly, I'd like to say thank you to all colleagues who have been working incredibly hard with the extra work load COVID-19 testing brings. I know this is an additional challenge on top of an already-challenging time of year, particularly for colleagues in A&E, infection control and pathology. However, as always, Team ASPH is rising to that challenge and going above and beyond for the benefit of patients.
The national response is being led by NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care. They are monitoring the situation closely and cascading information and guidance throughout the NHS as it becomes available. The executive and senior management team are closely linked in with the national teams to ensure we are up-to-date and following the correct protocols to minimise risk to patients and the team.
The national picture ...
As of 01 March at 9am, a total of 11,750 people have been tested in the UK, of which 11,715 were confirmed negative and 35 positive.
What's the situation at ASPH?
At the moment, Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals are not treating any patients with COVID-19.
We have an NHS assessment pod set up opposite A&E, which is a contained area for self -presenting patients concerned about COVID-19 to call NHS 111 for advice and for testing to take place if required.
If we were to identify a positive case, we also have plans in place, including how we would safely care for the patient/s here or transfer them to another hospital.
To ensure organisational readiness we have stood up our internal command and control arrangements and are checking our emergency preparedness and response protocols and pandemic policies and guidance.
We plan to hold briefings and Q&A sessions so that we can ensure everyone has the information and support they need and we will confirm details of those plans shortly.
Our dedicated COVID-19 pages can be found on our intranet and contains lots of useful information, including clinical guidance and guidance for managers and staff. Staff can also access the latest resources, such as posters. Please do not design your own posters and notices, contact the communications team if you need anything.
What infection control measures should we deploy?
It is imperative to follow Public Health England safety measures, including when and how to don and doff PPE equipment to protect yourselves and to minimise the risk of potential transmission to other patients. Please watch this useful <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKz_vNGsNhc">short video</a> which offers guidance on the correct procedure for donning and doffing PPE equipment for suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
Please also note that we have 44 colleagues who are trained to fit test respiratory protective equipment. Staff should check with their line manager if they require fit testing and access the information on our intranet.
Advice for healthcare workers
We have been sending out regular guidance for healthcare workers and managers through our daily staff bulletin, based on an updated Trust risk assessment. It's really important that colleagues travelling back from the published list of countries contact Occupational Health, even if they don't have symptoms.
Please do ensure that if you contact Occupational Health about this you feed the outcome back to your line manager, so they can support any impact on the team or service.
Current national advice and guidance
NHS organisations are being asked to direct the public <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/">here</a> for all the latest updates, information and guidance. There are some countries and areas where there's a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 and this list was recently updated. The current advice is for travellers returning to the UK from the following countries to contact NHS 111.
- Hong Kong
- Italy - only northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini)
- Myanmar (Burma)
- South Korea
- Tenerife - only the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel
What you can do to help ...
We know that good infection control practice can help to stop the spread of the virus. Please help the public follow PHE advice to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
If you have any concerns about COVID-19, please speak to your manager, the infection control team or occupational health.
Thank you for all your continued hard work.