Bath Chronicle

RUH tack­les wait­ing lists be­fore virus sec­ond wave

- Stephen Sum­ner Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter stephen.sum­ner@reach­ Health · Brian Johnson

Bath’s Royal United Hos­pi­tal is work­ing through a back­log of non-ur­gent treat­ments as it pre­pares for a sec­ond wave of Covid-19 this win­ter.

The hos­pi­tal has seen a low num­ber of cases – 266 Covid-19 cases and 59 deaths as of last week – but is learn­ing from worse-hit ar­eas in case that pic­ture changes.

It is rolling out home test­ing to boost ca­pac­ity in di­ag­nos­tics, look­ing at where best to tar­get rapid test­ing, work­ing with in­de­pen­dent hos­pi­tals for ur­gent and can­cer pro­ce­dures and in­creas­ing out­pa­tient ac­tiv­ity with “vir­tual” ap­point­ments by phone or video.

Rhi­an­non Hills, in­terim chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer, told the trust’s board of di­rec­tors this week that the hos­pi­tal’s ini­tial emer­gency re­sponse to the Covid-19 pan­demic had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on rou­tine wait­ing times as non-ur­gent out­pa­tient, elec­tive and di­ag­nos­tic ac­tiv­ity was paused.

The sec­ond phase of the re­sponse, af­ter the out­break peaked, saw the hos­pi­tal fo­cus on in­creas­ing noncovid-19 ur­gent ser­vices, as well as rou­tine non-ur­gent elec­tive care.

Ms Hills said: “We are now in phase three, where we are look­ing to build on the work al­ready done and to con­cen­trate on max­imis­ing elec­tive care ac­tiv­ity ahead of win­ter.

“Wait­ing list back­logs re­main a key chal­lenge but we have plans in place to re­duce num­bers, while man­ag­ing in­creas­ing de­mand for our full range of pa­tient care ser­vices. I’d like to thank our pa­tients for their un­der­stand­ing, and to re­as­sure them that they’ve not been for­got­ten dur­ing th­ese chal­leng­ing times.”

There has not been a Covid-re­lated death at the RUH since early June.

Ms Hills said it was learn­ing lessons from re­gions that had been hit harder by the pan­demic.

■ Full park­ing charges are set to be rein­tro­duced at Bath’s Royal United Hos­pi­tal in the com­ing weeks.

The hos­pi­tal trust sus­pended charges in March as it re­stricted vis­i­tor num­bers to pre­vent the spread of coro­n­avirus, giv­ing free ac­cess to staff.

In July, as the lock­down eased, the fees re­turned at half the nor­mal level to help man­age de­mand.

Brian John­son, the trust’s di­rec­tor of es­tates and fa­cil­i­ties, told trust board mem­bers last week: “We’re now mov­ing into a new phase where we need to bet­ter man­age park­ing on site. We’re look­ing to rein­tro­duce some of the pre­vi­ous mea­sures – our staff per­mit sys­tem and clo­sure of the staff park­ing bar­ri­ers, while en­cour­ag­ing staff to use park and stride and other forms of ac­tive travel.

“We’re also con­sid­er­ing at what point in the com­ing weeks we may rein­tro­duce the full park­ing charges for our vis­i­tor car parks.”

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