Independent hospitals support Leeds health trust during COVID-19

07 July 2020

Independent hospitals in Leeds have been taking some of the pressure off the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic by providing additional capacity to treat patients.

The Nuffield Health and Spire hospitals in Leeds have been supporting Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust by treating a range of patients in specialties such as stroke rehabilitation, neurosurgery, cardiology, vascular, ophthalmology and general surgery.

The partnership between LTHT and the two hospitals was made possible under a national agreement, which the independent sector signed to make its staff, equipment and facilities available to the NHS to help alleviate the pressure caused by the pandemic.

Initially the Nuffield Health and Spire hospitals were treating in the region of 200 in-patients and out-patients per week and the aim during June has also been to treat 200 surgical patients with that target likely to be exceeded.

They have been taking medical patients from Leeds’s main hospitals, helping to free up beds for Covid-19 patients.  The Trust is now sending surgical patients to the Nuffield Health and Spire hospitals to help increase capacity further and start to work on the backlog of patient cases built up during Covid-19.

Dr Phil Wood, Chief Medical Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the relationship with the independent providers was very important during the Covid-19 pandemic and they were exploring ways to continue working together in the future.  “Our work with Nuffield and Spire has been fundamental in providing additional surgical capacity in helping to treat our backlog of urgent elective and cancer patients, and when this has been achieved will provide valuable resource in treating the backlog of waiting patients,” he said.  

“Even with this important additional capacity it is estimated that it will take us many months to return to pre-Covid waiting list levels.”

Spire Leeds hospital in Roundhay has been providing surgery for patients with cancer and acute heart conditions.   In addition, NHS patients needing an urgent diagnosis have been referred to Spire Leeds for CT and MRI scans.

The partnership began at the start of the pandemic and during March and April when Spire began providing treatment for people awaiting a liver transplant and support for some patients who were nearing the end of their life.

Helen Atkinson, Hospital Director at Spire Leeds, said: “The main focus in recent weeks has quite rightly been to tackle the pandemic, but it’s vital that we don’t forget about those patients in Leeds and West Yorkshire who need treatment for cancer and other urgent conditions.   We’re really pleased to have been able to play our part and provide a safe environment for those patients to receive the care they need.

“I am very proud to be supporting the NHS during this unprecedented global health emergency and pay tribute to the dedication of Spire and NHS colleagues who have come together to provide high quality care in such challenging circumstances.”

The Leeds Nuffield Health Hospital has been taking neuro rehabilitation patients and some post-surgical patients (elderly orthopaedic) – working together with the Trust in looking after the patients. Many of these patients were repatriated back to LTHT in May.  Nuffield Health hospital also transferred nine ventilators from their CCU department and 10 anaesthetic machines to LTHT to support the increase in critical care capacity developed at the Trust.

Since the reduction in Covid-19 cases the hospital has been supporting surgery (ENT, Spinal / neuro and maxillofacial), cardiology (outpatients, diagnostics and interventional), imaging (CT scans), and neurology outpatients and are in the process of setting up some therapy services within their physio department for the Trust.

Maria Robinson, Hospital Director at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, said: “We are pleased to offer our support to NHS patients and the teams at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS at this challenging time.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has stretched our country, challenging us, and the effort, dedication and commitment of both NHS and our own staff is truly humbling.   The whole team has been fantastic, and I am very proud of what they have all done so far, and for what they will be doing over the coming weeks.”

The Trust’s arrangements with the independent sector is expected to continue for a number of months as they work through the backlog of cases.

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