Covid admissions low but no room for complacency says hospital chief

There are still just a handful of patients being treated for Covid-19 at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals, despite the growing number of cases nationally.

Speaking to the FRA this week, Epsom and St Helier Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles says there are currently five patients being treated, with just one in intensive care.

That compares with three patients being treated in early July, and 350 patients at the peak in April.  But he says there is no room for complacency.

“If everyone wants to keep infection rates low, and keep their lives as normal as possible, then follow the rules. Individual actions are what will keep everyone safe,” says Mr Elkeles.

And he stresses that if your GP surgery offers you a flu jab, you should have one.

“If you are offered it – take it. It doesn’t make you ill, and it does give you protection.”

The threat of a bad flu season, in addition to the widespread risk from Covid, could have a severe impact on the NHS.

This year, depending on vaccine supplies, the flu jab is likely to be offered to patients between 50 and 64 years of age.  Everyone aged 65 and over is already eligible.

The refurbished Molebridge surgery in Fetcham which is in partnership with Epsom and St Helier Hospitals.
The practice has begun this year's flu jab programme.

The Epsom Trust is now catching up with the backlog of non-Covid operations and treatments, but waiting times are still long in many areas.

“There are tens of thousands of people waiting for operations and procedures and we’re going full pelt trying to catch up,” says Mr Elkeles.

“If you take the number of people on our list who have waited more than a year, before Covid it was less than 10, now it is almost 100.”

The Trust is making extensive use of the private Ashtead Hospital, in a special arrangement to help clear the waiting lists.  Ashtead is being kept as an entirely Covid-free site, but patients should not fear getting Covid when they come into hospital. 

Mr Elkeles also says that clinicians have learned valuable lessons from the first wave of the pandemic.

“We have learned the importance of infection control, and if our staff follow the rules that have been set they will keep themselves safe and our patients safe.

“The working assumption is if it gets as bad in terms of number of patients this time round as last time round, we will have less patients in ICU, people will spend less time in hospital and more people will live than we managed the first time.”

Drug therapies are also now available which mitigate the most severe effects of Covid.

The Epsom and St Helier Trust is in partnership with the Molebridge GP practice in Fetcham and Leatherhead.

If you have questions or queries about the flu jab, please contact the Molebridge practice at themolebridgepractice.nhs.uk or call 01372 379941.

Covid-19 image: Fusion Medical Animation/Unsplash

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