Open Community Beds for Covid-19 Patients

Open Community Beds for Covid-19 Patients

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Katie Musgrave started this petition to Boris Johnson and

Dear Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Simon Stevens, Nikki Kanini,

We are writing to ask that you undertake, as a matter of urgency, the widespread commissioning of temporary community hospitals.  It is swiftly becoming apparent that huge numbers of the British public will be infected with Covid-19. Studies of the virus in other countries have shown a staggering need for hospital and ITU care.  The NHS does not have the capacity to deal with the number of patients who will be critically unwell with the infection.

In General Practice, we are familiar with difficult decision making around when to admit patients to hospital, and when to palliate at home.  Many of our patients will be too unwell to stay at home unattended, but will not benefit from the scarce resources we have available in the acute trusts. These patients will need nursing, and may require fluids, antibiotics, and palliative care drugs.  It will not be possible for GPs and district nurses to provide palliative care at home to the numbers who will require this service, while caring for the rest of our patients’ medical needs at this time.

The only feasible option is that we open either boarding schools, hotels, universities or army barracks as temporary community units.  Each primary care network could be responsible for arranging medical cover for a temporary Covid-19 hospital, with Clinical Commissioning Groups being responsible for recruiting nurses and ancillary support. Family members could (if willing and able) be encouraged to provide assistance and nursing for their relatives in these units. Extra staff could be recruited from our armed forces, or even university students (could they be paid for this national service via a reduction in their student debt?).  We know that those patients most likely to succumb to this virus, are also least likely to benefit from intensive hospital care. These individuals deserve to be offered dignified, patient-centred nursing and medical care. We will not be able to leave our patients home alone in respiratory failure.

We are calling on you to mandate each Clinical Commissioning Group provides 25 empty community beds for every primary care network across the UK, with the capacity to rapidly expand the numbers to 100 beds or more.  We will need these facilities to be available from 30 March 2020.

If you set up the units with nursing cover, we could recruit medical cover from amongst local GPs.  GP trainees could also be diverted to these units, with added support from our palliative care colleagues.  It is our belief that temporary community hospitals would save many thousands of lives by providing appropriate levels of care for our frailer patients closer to home, and removing a huge amount of pressure from the acute hospitals.  These are, truly, extraordinary times, and we need the government to act swiftly and decisively to help us provide the care our patients need.

 

 

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