HOSPITAL staff in north Cumbria have battled through a ‘whirlwind” of changes as they adapt their services to treat increasing numbers of coronavirus patients, say health chiefs.

Theatre staff at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven have transformed a former day surgery unit into an Level 4 intensive care Unit for seriously ill coronavirus patients.

Mark Holliday, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia, said: “The staff as a whole have embraced what has been a whirlwind change involving a lot of challenges.

“Every department in the hospital has risen to the occasion and helped make this possible from the domestic staff to the pharmacy and everyone in between.

“Particular mention would need to go to Katrina Moffat who has been the nurse leading and co-ordinating this change as well as to Steve Dougan and the estates team who have transformed the day surgery unit in to the new Intensive Care Unit.”

The pandemic has meant many of the services provided by North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) changing rapidly. Many services are conducting appointments either online, over the phone or by video conferencing.

Rachel Jamieson, ICC support manager, said: “There is astounding work that is currently happening between primary and community care teams. They are working collaboratively and rapidly adopting new ways of working. Many staff and services are swiftly relocating to accommodate necessary changes to the way that primary care and outpatient services are delivered.

“There is an amazing feeling of camaraderie and determination amongst the integrated teams.”

She added a thank you to support staff who have worked around the clock to help quickly implement the changes.

Professor Matt Phillips, Clinical Director Sexual Health, said: “In sexual health we have been very used to seeing people face to face for everything we do - even just conversations.

"Thinking about social distancing and self isolation has meant we have changed to telephone consultations - which saves people time and travel and we will think about how we do more of this in the future.”

Mike Lennon, audiology manager at the Cumberland Infirmary, said changes had to be made to the way his department works and staff had written to patients outlining the changes.

He said: “The staff have collaborated brilliantly in more or less redesigning a service based on over 10,000 open access face to face contacts a year and dealing with some of our most vulnerable patients so that we can reach out and support them in their homes.”

We would also like to say a huge thanks to our colleagues in primary care who have transformed the way they work into a telephone first system, and are creating ‘red centres’ to support patients who may have COVID-19 in the community.