Published on: 24 December 2020
Healthcare leaders at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are introducing further measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Across South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital, the Trust is now caring for the same number of patients as it was at the height of the pandemic in April with over 200 people currently in hospital with confirmed COVID-19.
From Christmas Eve, for a two week period over Christmas and New Year, NHS bosses will take a number of additional steps in an attempt to further reduce footfall onto its hospital sites and thereby reduce the spread of the virus as follows:
- Reducing the number of entrance points where people can access the main hospital buildings
- Checking the temperature of all staff and patients as they come into the two main hospitals in South Tyneside and Sunderland
- Creating staff bubbles to restrict movement between the two hospitals and between wards and departments when this is clinically safe to do so
- Testing patients and targeted groups of staff more regularly to help control outbreaks
The action is being taken following concerns from Trust leaders over recent weeks that the virus is being brought into the hospital and spread due to complacency creeping in around the vital rules that are in place to keep patients and staff safe. NHS staff at the Trust’s hospitals have also had to endure unacceptable behaviour when asking people to wear facemasks.
In addition to the above measures, the Trust is also working hard to switch even more non-urgent outpatient appointments from face-to-face consultations to virtual appointments over the next two weeks. Every effort is also being made to prevent any planned operations being postponed and Trust leaders are keen to reassure people that it remains safe to attend hospital for urgent appointments and of course in emergency situations.
Dr Sean Fenwick, Director of Operations at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “Given the recent rise in cases we have seen within our hospitals, we felt the time was right to introduce some further preventative measures to really try and reduce unnecessary footfall onto our hospital sites from people who are potentially COVID-19 positive and unknowingly may risk spreading the virus.
“The festive period is generally a time when our non-urgent activity is a little less busy as people want to be at home with their families and so it makes sense for us to implement these temporary measures now. Our absolute priority is to protect our patients and staff and build our resilience so we can meet the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead as we get into the New Year. We need the public to support us now, more than ever. Please help us and don’t come onto our hospital sites over the Christmas and New Year period unless absolutely necessary.”
The Trust is now urgently reminding people:
- Facemasks must be worn at all times within hospital buildings
- Visiting* to all adult inpatient wards remains suspended and patients must not leave ward areas to meet family members anywhere on the hospital site
- Patients attending the Emergency Department should do so alone
- Patients attending outpatient appointments, arriving for tests or scans, or coming into hospital for planned care should come alone
- Abuse of any kind against NHS staff will not be tolerated and action will be taken as necessary
The Trust has a number of measures in place to help people stay connected with loved ones in hospital including virtual visiting with iPads available on all wards and a #SendingLove scheme which allows family and friends to send messages and photos into the Trust to be hand delivered to patients every day. Full details of the scheme can be found on the Trust website www.stsft.nhs.uk.