This afternoon I joined a call with the Chief Exec of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Richard Mitchell, along with local MPs Lee Anderson (Ashfield) and Mark Fletcher (Bolsover), to discuss the situation relating to coronavirus in our local hospitals. SFHT manage Kingsmill, Mansfield Community Hospital and Newark Hospital.
It was very positive to hear that the Trust has managed these challenging circumstances well, and particularly to know that despite the national press, they are well stocked with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and have no issues with access to testing for staff.
Around 1300 patients and staff have so been tested for coronavirus within the Trust's hospitals, with 293 testing positive. Sadly 72 have died. Every loss of life is tragic, but we are fortunate that everyone has had access to the best possible care. From the call we are confident that this challenge has been well managed by the Trust, with numbers beginning to decline from a peak just before Easter.
The hospitals have continued with cancer treatments, emergency care and trauma services throughout, and are looking now at how best to restart elective surgery and other services whilst continuing to care for coronavirus patients.
Despite the national media's message of fraught and desperate times in hospitals, we were pleased to hear that things at Sherwood Forest Trust are "calm", with the leadership feeling that they have been well prepared to cope with the numbers of patients, which have actually been lower than they expected and planned for.
They were keen to say that patients should continue to attend hospital where they have a medical need to do so, and that this is one of their top concerns. Nobody should avoid attending A&E if they need it for fear of coronavirus. SFHT are well prepared to cope.
We were told that staff numbers have been manageable despite the situation, with all NHS staff who have tested positive now recovered or recovering, and staff availability is both healthy and improving.
As a group of local MPs we'd like to thank Richard and the Trust, as well as all the staff and volunteers at SFHT for their hard work and dedication. We were of course delighted to hear that this has been well managed and services are working well. We also wanted to share this information publicly so that our constituents can be assured that their local hospitals are coping well, and that the national media focus on PPE and testing shortages are not an issue for your local hospitals.