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Number of coronavirus patients in Cornwall is 'lower than expected'

Number of coronavirus patients in Cornwall is 'lower than expected'

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:03am 9th April 2020. (Updated at 11:40am 9th April 2020)

The Royal Cornwall Hospital has revealed there are currently five people in intensive care at Treliske because of coronavirus.

But that is below the expected number for this stage in the Covid-19 outbreak, as bosses originally thought there were would be around 20 patients in intensive care by this point.

The hospital says 250 members of staff have been retrained so they can deal with emergency patients during the height of the peak.

But it is not yet known when that peak is likely to hit.

Kate Shields is the Chief Executive at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), she told Pirate FM preparations are underway.

"We normally run between 9 and 15 intensive care beds and through modelling across our site we can get up to around 90 intensive care beds at the height of the peak.

"What we would do is what they are doing in London and use non-invasive ventilation, to be able to support people either onto a ventilator or off it.

"Or in some cases the non-invasive ventilation on its own is appearing to have really good results."

Kate Shields, RCHT


What about forecasts in terms of numbers of cases or deaths expected in Cornwall?

As of Wednesday, there are 224 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Duchy and 30 people with Covid-19 here have died.

All of the patients who lost their lives had been cared for at Treliske.

At the moment, the hospital isn't sure how many more cases or fatalities it will expect to see.

"What we have is the original imperial model, which was based on the surge in London before we had social distancing and social isolation, we are waiting for that national modelling to come out to us so we can look at where we are performing against it.

"At the moment from the original data we are way, way below the expected numbers that were suggested we would see in Cornwall

"We are below the trajectory as it moves forward, so the shape is the same but the numbers are different, we are lower.

"At this stage it was anticipated that we would have around 20 people in intensive care but as of today we have five."

Kate Shields, RCHT

hospital bed

What about hospital beds and staffing levels?

Talks are underway about whether a nightingale hospital, like the one in London, is needed in Cornwall or Devon and whether one should be built.

A string of other nightingale hospitals have already been announced across the UK, including in Bristol, which will treat patients from across the South West.

To help pressure at Treliske, there are 120 'step down' beds in place for patients who are ready to leave hospital but not yet ready to return home.

Currently there are 400 empty beds at the hospital and nurses can be redeployed to cover areas which are short-staffed

"So it depends of which part of the hospital people are absent from, if it's in our intensive care capacity, then we need people with a skill set who are able to work in intensive care and operate ventilators. 

"So we've trained around 250 nurses and theatre staff who don't normally work in intensive care, in how they would step into those roles.

"That induces Cornwall Partnership staff, as well as our own, and the Duchy staff.

"We've got plans in place that look in lots of different directions because we've tried to think of every scenario that there could be."

Kate Shields, RCHT

Currently, over 500 members of staff across the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust are off work and self-isolating at home due to having Covid-19 or living with somebody who is showing symptoms.

Treliske is hoping to roll out an expansion of staff testing so they are able to bring employees back to work where possible.


What about levels of personal protective equipment?

Bosses at the hospital say staff are well prepared to deal with the coronavirus peak and are 'happy' with their stocks of personal protective equipment.

"We now have very clear guidance from Public Health England around what people should be wearing, according to where they work and what procedures they are carrying out. We have implemented the PHE guidance in full

"I think some of our staff's anxiety comes when manufacturers change and we start giving out products that don't look like the ones we had before.

"So as those changes come about we are working with our staff to reassure them that they are still safe and effective to use, and at this point we are happy with the level of stock that we've got."

Kate Shields, RCHT

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