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Bucks' hospitals move to next phase of reopening

The Trust here say they will be looking at who is a priority for treatments.

Published by Dan Gooding at 1:57pm 14th July 2020. 5-minute read.

Bucks' hospitals move to next phase of reopening

Some patients will have longer wait times for treatment at Buckinghamshire's hospitals for the next few months.

Bucks Healthcare are restarting some services as the pressure from coronavirus eases - but they say they've got to prioritise those with the most need.

Many of the NHS services that were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic are now being restored, with more to come over the coming weeks and months as Buckinghamshire moves into the second phase of its COVID-19 response.

While the pandemic is far from over, anyone with non-COVID-19 health concerns is urged to contact their GP surgery or use the NHS 111 service as normal, or call 999 in case of emergency.

Amersham Hospital

Every effort is still being taken to ensure patients with coronavirus are treated in separate areas to those with other health concerns.

Along with NHS services nationwide, the Trust say their main priority over the last few months has been to ensure that the people who need care most urgently get it, whether for coronavirus or for other illnesses or conditions.

In order for this to happen, and to keep the public as safe as possible from unnecessary risk of coronavirus infection, many non-urgent hospital appointments and procedures were postponed.

Other appointments have been delivered in a different way - over the telephone, for instance.

What is happening now?

Hospital - bed/patient

BHT are now working to restore more services and get more people the treatment they have been waiting for.

This has to be a steady process, however, as they are still dealing with the coronavirus and need to change the way they deliver services to keep patients and staff safe.

For example, as well as wearing protective equipment and testing staff and patients, the Trust also have to control the number of people physically going to their sites to avoid overcrowding.

All of this limits the number of appointments which can be delivered face-to-face.

Because they must ensure those in most urgent need of care are seen as soon as possible, they are working to assess patients who are still awaiting treatment and will prioritise those with the greatest clinical need.

As a result, waiting times for some patients will still be longer than normal for the foreseeable future.

Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

"As I'm sure everyone appreciates, the last few months have been challenging for our hospital and community services. Dealing with the coronavirus and helping anyone requiring urgent treatment for their illnesses or conditions has been our top priority and we are incredibly grateful for the support and understanding we have had from the public, especially those waiting for appointments.

"Now, as we move into phase two of our coronavirus response, we are prioritising those in the greatest clinical need and restoring services in a careful, phased way, so that we can ensure we continue to observe social distancing and prevent the spread of infection.

"We are still treating patients for coronavirus, and we will continue to see more cases over the coming weeks and months."

Neil Macdonald, Bucks Healthcare Trust
Neil Macdonald, Bucks Healthcare Trust

Dr Tina Kenny, Medical Director for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, added:

"We understand how difficult a time this has been for patients who have had appointments or treatments delayed because of the pandemic and are grateful for the support they have shown their NHS.

"If anyone who is waiting to be seen should experience a worsening of their symptoms we would urge them to please contact the appropriate hospital team for advice as soon as possible.

"We can then judge whether their situation has become more urgent and make sure they get the right care.

"Patients with other health concerns should continue to use our services.

"Whether you are experiencing new symptoms or are living with long-term conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

"Over the coming weeks, patients will be notified if their appointments are being rescheduled or carried out in a different way. This will probably be the case for many people, and if you are invited for a hospital appointment, please make every effort to attend."

An update on Bucks hospital services:

  • A&E if it is an emergency, call 999. Otherwise call NHS 111 and you will be given advice and advised to attend A&E if appropriate.
  • Most outpatient services are still running virtually but they are increasing the number of face-to-face outpatient clinics for those that need them at Amersham, Brookside and Buckingham Community Hospitals.
  • The Community Assessment and Treatment Service has started running again at Amersham.
  • Cancer services across the Trust are delivering all urgent work, including surgery, and accepting referrals. Anyone concerned about suspicious symptoms should contact their GP as soon as possible.
  • Outpatient children's services are continuing, using non-face-to-face appointments where possible, and inviting patients in when appropriate. BHT have been working in the community to support families who have been isolated at home with children who have complex health conditions.
  • Maternity services at Stoke Mandeville Hospital are operating as normal, while Wycombe Birthing Centre is currently open for prenatal and antenatal appointments and will open for births from September.
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