|Responding to today’s Downing Street press briefing about care capacity and ventilator availability, Dr Layla McCay, director of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:|
“The early signs continue to be positive that the social distancing measures are beginning to flatten the rise in hospital admissions due to coronavirus. However, the public must adhere to the Government’s advice and in doing so, protect the NHS, particularly as we head towards the Easter weekend when temptations to ignore the rules may creep in.
“The 30% rise in critical care bed capacity in the last two weeks is encouraging, especially as the Nightingale hospitals across the country are expected to provide additional relief. However, this reassurance will only be felt if patients occupying these beds have the front-line staff in place and equipment they need to recover.
“While extra ventilators are being bought, we are far from the 18,000 ventilator target set by the Government and health leaders are telling us that they are anxious about how the system will ensure the machines go to the right places at the right time. We cannot afford for ventilator supply issues to become PPE, Part Two.
“Also, it is right that staff in critical care, emergency departments and ambulance services are prioritised for testing of coronavirus, but our members are concerned about testing needing to be expanded to front-line workers across primary, community and social care too. In many cases, these staff are the first port of call for those with suspected coronavirus.
“The virus is hitting all parts of the NHS hard, not just hospitals. With that, we need to see more effort being placed nationally on scaling up discharge planning so that those who are well enough can leave hospital as soon as possible. Our members are getting increasingly concerned that they are seeing a rise in demand for healthcare services in the community from patients with much higher clinical need. Failing to address that could see many patients returning to hospital and adding to the pressures there.”