Being prevented from visiting those we love in hospital has been one of the cruellest aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was a completely understandable measure, to help contain the virus, but so hard for families and patients, be they Covid or Non-Covid.
It was therefore a great relief last week to learn that changes are planned to the visiting arrangements at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals. From 6th July, one visitor (or two if they are from the same household) will be allowed per patient . Furthermore, each ward will be allocated a specific visiting hour to avoid too many visitors arriving at the hospital at one time. This relaxation only applies to visiting non-Covid wards, but will provide a lot of comfort for many.
The change has been possible directly due to a significant reduction in the number of Coronavirus cases presenting at hospital. As of last week, 8 patients with Covid-19 were being cared for at Maidstone and Pembury hospitals compared with 87 at the peak of the crisis.
For the same reason Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust also has the resources to increase the provision of ‘normal’ health services in the coming weeks. A second theatre will reopen from mid-July to carry out cataract operations, urology services will be running at 50% capacity by 20th July and back up to normal levels by early August and orthopaedic treatments will be back to 80% of capacity by 15th July. CT and MRI appointments are being extended across weekends too, helping reduce demand to pre lockdown levels whilst still observing social distancing rules.
Meanwhile, patient and staff safety remains a priority for the Trust with the introduction of a range of measures to reinforce existing procedures. These include: the testing of all ‘patient facing’ NHS staff by early July, the wearing of face coverings throughout the hospitals and the requiring of some patients who attend the hospital for planned operations to isolate for 14 days prior to admission. The Trust will also be continuing to conduct outpatient consultations by phone or video call wherever possible.
Once again I applaud our NHS teams in Maidstone & The Weald for their fortitude and superb management of this daunting crisis. You are so appreciated.