RUH tackles waiting lists before virus second wave
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.”