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Shropshire hospitals boss: Maintaining social distancing is vital

Shrewsbury | In-depth | Published:

Medical director at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Dr Arne Rose, says that while things are starting to improve, it is imperative that people continue to follow the Covid-19 guidelines.

Dr Arne Rose

Thank you. They are two simple words but words that, perhaps, we do not use enough. So I want to start by saying thank you.

Last weekend, the NHS celebrated its 72nd anniversary in what has been the most challenging year in its long history. So it was heart-warming to see so many people marking the occasion and showing how much the NHS means to them.

As well as having an incredible giant version of the cake which won the Telford & Wrekin NHS ‘bake off’ delivered to the Princess Royal Hospital, we also saw landmarks lit up in blue and one final ‘clap’ at 5pm on Sunday. For our part, we held a birthday tea for patients and staff and issued a video message to colleagues from Louise Barnett, our chief executive, to thank them for their hard work.

The weekend also saw pubs reopen for the first time since ‘lockdown’ and I know there were concerns that this might lead to a significant spike in the number of people attending our emergency departments. I’m pleased to say that was not the case, and the reports I have seen suggest most people were very responsible, so thank you.

I’ve said before that this virus has not gone away. Sadly, over the weekend, a patient being treated in our hospitals for Covid-19 died; the first death in our hospitals for almost two weeks. This is incredibly difficult for the patient’s family and friends and for the teams treating the patient.

Generally, I am pleased to report that the situation in our hospitals continues to gradually improve, with fewer and fewer Covid-positive patients being treated at the Princess Royal and the Royal Shrewsbury hospitals. But this trend will only continue if we all continue to follow the guidance and maintain social distancing when we are with others.

Importance

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More than 4,000 colleagues have now had antibody tests. The antibody test tells the person if they have had the virus or not, but not about any level of protection or immunity from getting the virus again, so we continue to reiterate to our own staff the importance of social distancing measures and personal protective equipment.

We continue to look at the services we are providing to allow us to return to ‘business as usual’ as much as possible. One area that has received a lot of attention this week is cancer, with concerns over delays in screening and treatment. At SaTH, cancer treatment has continued, but some patients have had their chemotherapy regimen adjusted in order to continue their treatment while reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19, or become seriously ill because of it.

Some planned cancer surgery was also delayed or converted to other therapies, with patient consent. Most surgeries have now taken place, and we have plans in place to see outstanding patients as soon as possible. It’s important to note that urgent cancer referrals were not stopped.

This remains a very difficult time for everyone in the NHS, whether you work in the health service or are a patient being cared for in hospital, by a GP or in the community. Last weekend’s display of gratitude on the 72nd anniversary of this incredible institution shows that together, we can come through this.

Thank you.

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