Over the past few months, there have been a number of temporary changes to services in our hospitals, GP surgeries and in the community across Morecambe Bay in response to the risks posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
To ensure local health and care services across the Bay remain safe for our staff and patients, the Bay Health and Care Partners (BHCP) moved services to COVID-safe sites and introduced safer and more efficient ways of working.
We want to hear how patients, carers and the public have found these changes and have set up a new BHCP Let’s Talk online space to explain what’s happened, hear people’s experiences and answer their questions. Films about these changes, questions and more information can be found at www.letstalkmorecambebay.uk
People can have their say from today (Tuesday 15 September) to Monday 19 October 2020.
These changes have included:
- introducing virtual consultations and appointments in our GP surgeries and hospitals, though still offering face-to-face appointments where safe and appropriate
- Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (MBCCG) offered care homes additional support including psychological support for care home staff through St John’s and St Mary’s hospices
- the relocation of the Surgical Emergency Ambulatory Care Unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) to Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) to increase capacity for the Intensive Care Unit
- deploying staff on the Langdale Ward at WGH to other areas including supporting patients in their own homes or in residential settings. This is a temporary closure while the patients who have been waiting for elective surgery (planned procedures that patients need, but do not have to be done right away) receive the treatment they need and it will be reviewed every three months
- the Oncology Unit at the RLI was moved to the Grizedale Ward at WGH to create more space for the Emergency Department at the RLI. The Trust had designated WGH as a COVID-free site which seemed the ideal location to continue providing chemotherapy treatment and care for its vulnerable cancer patients. Works are ongoing to move the RLI Oncology Unit back to the RLI site
- stepping-down home births across Lancaster, Barrow and Kendal in March to ensure the safety of patients and staff at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT). The decision was also taken to suspend some of the Trust’s service at Helme Chase meaning women could not give birth there. In June home births were reinstated
- developing recovery centres at Furness Academy and Kendal Leisure Centre for patients with COVID-19. Even though these centres were not used they were an important asset during the height of the pandemic and the Integrated Community Services team is now looking at developing Seacole Centres which are rehabilitation beds for patients who are medically fit for discharge but need that extra support that they would not have at home.
Aaron Cummins, Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: "Faced with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Bay Health and Care Partners had to make a number of changes to services across our hospitals, GP surgeries and primary care, and health and care services in the community including in the third sector. We made these changes to ensure our patients, staff and the public remained safe during the pandemic.
“Whilst these changes were made temporarily as part of our response to COVID-19, they have brought about a lot of positives so as we plan the reinstatement of those services we had to change or stop, we want to take the opportunity to find out what our patients and local communities think of the actions we have taken – your views really do matter to us.”
Jerry Hawker, Chief Officer at MBCCG, said: “The response from staff and patients to changes during the pandemic has been phenomenal and the hard work and dedication has not gone unrecognised.
“It is really important that we gather as many views as possible from our patients, carers and the public too. By sharing your views you can help to shape your local health and care services for the future.”