Croydon’s Mayday Hospital has been dealing with the second wave of coronavirus having put the lessons from the initial onslaught from covid-19 to good use. And they think they may have come up with a new way for hospitals to function in future – with a mini-hospital within the hospital.
Mayday – still called by some Croydon “University” Hospital – was the subject of a timely Sunday Times feature yesterday, published just hours after bungling Boris Johnson, supposedly the Prime Minister, announced a second national lockdown against the rising number of deaths and positive cases of infections – weeks later than the government’s scientific experts had advised.
It is the nurses, doctors, orderlies and other staff in NHS hospitals such as Mayday who will be expected to deal with the consequences of the government’s second bout of dither and dealy this year.
But now they are better-equipped and they have a plan.
The Mayday blueprint may even be rolled out at other hospitals in the future to cope with the “new normal”, and endeavour to continue to deliver operations and treatments needed by patients with life-threatening conditions other than covid-19.
The first wave of coronavirus saw many hospitals shutdown their other services, both because of capacity isssues and to avoid further spreading the virus. Over the summer, Mayday’s surgeons and nursing staff asked themselves a couple of key questions: How do you keep services running during a pandemic? And how do you protect patients and staff as rising numbers of people infected with covid-19 are admitted?
Since July, Mayday has created the Croydon Elective Centre, in what was the hospital’s blue zone. According to the Sunday Times, it means, “Croydon is running at 120 per cent of pre-lockdown levels for routine procedures such as cancer, cardiac and hip operations, making it among the top performers in the country. In July it was running at 27 per cent.”
The article quotes Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England: “They have been able to cut the hospital in two. I think they have done an absolutely fantastic job.”
But having “normal” procedures in a mini-hospital separated out from the covid zone, it has allowed Mayday’s surgeons to start reducing the backlog in procedures that built up in March, April and May. “It could become a blueprint for the NHS,” according to the Sunday Times.
This is how it works: “Patients due in for planned treatment have a pre-assessment, often via video link or telephone. Three days before arriving, they are sent for a covid test at a drive-in clinic at the back of the hospital. They must have self-isolated for seven or 14 days, depending on the procedure.
“Patients use a new entrance created solely for the elective centre, away from the main entrance and A&E. Staff enter and exit the same way, never leaving the mini-hospital while on shift.”
This mini-hospital has nine operating theatres, a recovery unit, a children’s unit and a 28-bed ward. It has its own lab and canteen. Theatres, equipment and wards are deep-cleaned more often than before.
Before covid-19 came along, Mayday used to have 11 operating theatres running. During the worst of the first lockdown, they were down to two, “And even those were not full-time,” according to Stella Vig, a consultant vascular and general surgeon for more than 30 years.
Such restrictions had a damaging effect on the treatment of other patients, something which could not be allowed to continue for too long. Now, planned operations and emergency care could be sealed off permanently.
Other NHS Trusts are already looking at the Mayday model and adapting it. Those trusts running more than one hospital in a region have decided to keep some of ts hospitals entirely covid-free.
But, as we know only too well, winter is coming.
Winter time usually brings extra demand on NHS hospitals. A second wave of coronavirus could prove a massive challenge.
“I have never faced anything like this,” Vig told the Sunday Times.
“If we can hold this over the winter, then I think the separation of elective and emergency care becomes the norm. I think if we do this, we will never ever turn back.”
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