Army of reservists, oxygen for 300 patients: N&N gets ready for second wave

PUBLISHED: 18:29 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:52 08 October 2020

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher


Norfolk’s main hospital has an “army of reservists” waiting to respond and enough oxygen to ventilate 300 coronavirus patients if the second wave of the pandemic hits hard.

Chris Cobb, chief operating officer at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Pic: ArchantChris Cobb, chief operating officer at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Pic: Archant

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has also lined up extra beds as the NHS awaits the forecast flurry of autumn and winter cases, bosses revealed.

Dr Akesh Dhrampal, anaesthetic consultant at the hospital, told its AGM about its work during the first wave of the pandemic and how it was preparing for any new cases.

The hospital is currently treating two patients with coronavirus, and there are no critical patients at this stage.

More: Another steep rise in Covid cases in Norwich, latest figures show

Dr Dhrampal said: “What about surge two? We have a whole army of reservists - about 1,700 staff have been trained in terms of how to deliver basic critical care skills.

Erika Denton, medical director at the NNUH. Photo: NNUHErika Denton, medical director at the NNUH. Photo: NNUH

“The structure of the hospital has changed. We now have a new oxygen supply which will be able to meet the oxygen supplies if required of almost 300 ventilated patients to the trust.

“We are actively participating in Covid research and we now know well established treatments for Covid. Working with Covid patients is stressful and in recognition of this we have managed to secure some physiological services on a two-days-a-week basis.”

More: Norwich Research Park publishes report into its Covid-19 efforts

During the first wave the team admitted 45 patients to critical care, including 10 transferred from outside the region.

The team said the mix of patients was more male then female and the average age of patients treated was 64. Of those they treated in critical care, 46pc survived.

Dr Dhrampal said: “We can do better, we can improve our mortality even more and given the opportunity we will try and improve further.

“We have learnt not to give up: we have learnt to hang in there.”

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Chief operating officer Chris Cobb said the hospital was aware of an upturn in coronavirus hospitalisations in the region, including at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, and that it was prepared to deal with cases alongside the “tricky” winter period.

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Mr Cobb told the meeting: “We are in a good position at the moment but we are acutely aware of the fact that colleagues elsewhere regionally, nationally and in the North East and North West are having a harder time and that level of Covid activity is most likely to come to us between now and the end of February.

“What I would say to reassure everybody is we are in a really good state of preparation.”

Erika Denton, NNUH medical director, said staff were much less anxious in comparison to the first wave and the opening of the new ward block would make a “significant difference” this time around.

She said: “We have our negative pressure block with additional respiratory rooms which will really help.”

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