COVID19: Putting Patients Safety First - Your views sought


We at REACH the organisation set up to campaign for the restoration of a full Accident and Emergency at Cheltenham General Hospital, would be really grateful if you could take just a couple of minutes to complete this survey about restarting planned surgery and patient safety in the COVID 19 era. Responses are welcomed from throughout the UK, not just Gloucestershire.

Firstly though, let us explain the background to the survey in our area and why REACH has chosen to create it.

All of us are relieved that the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic now seems to be receding in the United Kingdom. There has been an enormous cost to individual people, their families, health care workers and society as a whole. As the world readjusts to a new normal, the NHS is quite rightly keen to restart the process of performing planned surgery on the growing number of patients on the rising waiting list.  

- Inadvertent COVID infection in patients having planned surgery is a very serious problem with a 1 in 5 mortality rate. Avoiding COVID infection in planned surgery patients is critical.

- NHS England (NHSE) has stated that patients having planned surgery should be separated from emergency patients to reduce the risk of cross infection; doctors and nurses should not cross between caring for emergencies and planned patients.

- Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHNHSFT) has reorganised services, stating that they wish to create a “COVID free” hospital at Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH) to protect planned surgery patients.

- Emergency patients (COVID status unconfirmed) have been centralised at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH), which is the designated COVID hospital. But GHNHSFT is still performing major planned surgery in Gloucester and has also moved planned vascular surgery patients (vascular) from CGH to GRH.

- The number of beds for surgical patients in GRH is inadequate, with the risk that emergency and planned surgery patients might not be separated safely, or that staff might be moving between emergency and planned patients during their work.

- The majority of people understand that each individual patient has to give consent, in order to have their operation. Many think that this just involves signing a consent form. However, the process is far more complex than that, and includes the duty placed upon the hospital and the doctor to explain the benefits and risks of the operation. It is also important that each individual patient has time to consider this information before giving their informed consent to the operation.

We have produced a document that examines this subject in some more detail which can be found here, you may also wish to read this before completing the survey.

Michael Ratcliffe MBE
Chairman of REACH.