'We have a plan but everyone must play their part' says top Shropshire surgeon
A plan is in place and Shropshire will cope with the coronavirus crisis – but only if everyone plays their part.
That is the message given today by a top surgeon in the county who revealed how hospitals are organising themselves to get through the next few months.
Mr Rohit Singh, a member of the Covid-19 regional response team, said the county's hospitals had drawn up a detailed plan to cope with the virus. He said he was confident that the hospitals had the capacity, resources and equipment needed to get through the crisis.
But he added that nothing could be guaranteed in these uncertain times.
Mr Singh, an award-winning trauma surgeon, said all planned surgery at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford had been postponed to free up space for coronavirus patients.
He said Royal Shrewsbury would remain open for trauma patients to go through the triage process, but those who required surgery would be referred to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital in Gobowen, near Oswestry.
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Mr Singh said he expected the measures to be in place for at least six months.
"We have now got an organised plan which we think – although no-one knows for certain – is safe and robust," he said.
"All our trauma operations will now take place at Robert Jones," he said.
"We still have an open-door policy for trauma patients at Shrewsbury, they will be seen and triaged, but if they require surgery they will be sent to Robert Jones."
Mr Singh said he believed about 50 per cent of beds at Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal hospitals were occupied by patients with coronavirus symptoms at the moment, but the figure was growing rapidly.
He said while the patients with the most serious conditions would be treated in the intensive care units, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust had also created isolation wards where patients with the virus but who did not need full intensive care could be treated.
Mr Singh said it was important that people kept themselves safe at this difficult time.
"I would urge the general public to stay safe, and not to do any DIY which could land them in hospital, not to go on mountain bike or motor bike rides, and to drive carefully if they do need to go out," he said.
"It is important that we minimise the number of people needing treatment for trauma injuries."
Mr Singh said the special measures to cope with the pandemic could potentially go on until the winter, and he certainly expected them to be in place for the next six months.
He said he was confident the county's hospitals had the resources they needed, with more ventilators, masks and gowns being delivered.
"We are prepared for what is predicted, but that depends on it following the trends of what has happened in Spain and Italy," he said.
"If it gets worse than that, that is when we might have to start taking over Robert Jones for coronavirus as well."
Mr Singh paid tribute to the people of Shropshire for their co-operation during the lock-down period.
"I would like to complement the community and people of Shropshire for keeping to the special measures that are in place," he said.
"I think most people are complying, and I would like to thank everybody for their co-operation."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that the death rate could reach 1,000 a day by Easter Sunday.
Officials are reportedly aiming to keep the UK's death toll below 20,000, although a figure of 50,000 is thought to be a conceivable worst-case scenario.
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