Mildmay, London’s only HIV hospital, still faces closure during the Covid-19 epidemic
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September 2020 update
The number of HIV patients we treat fell this year as the number of HIV patients being treated in the NHS has also gone down. The commissioning of these patients is still on a CCG by CCG basis and most do not have a contract with Mildmay. A Pan-London contract for HIV patients would be the most practical way forward, but London CCGs are reticent to commit funding to this, despite the exceptionality of the specialised neurorehabilitation services that Mildmay has always provided.
The story over the course of the spring and summer has been one of success. Whilst there have been operational challenges, the hospital has stepped up and delivered. Longer-term funding for the homeless pathway isn’t yet certain and some core costs of running the organisation aren’t covered. The move from HIV/AIDS to a new primary focus brings with it a ‘change’ cost as we adapt our staffing model as services are rolled out to meet these new demands. It is our hope and our appeal that, having proved that we can rapidly adapt to deliver new services, Mildmay can provide HIV - and the much-needed homeless services, beyond the pandemic, and well into the future.
Read these Q&As by Geoff, our CEO, to find out how Mildmay is treating patients with COVID-19, developments with our new homeless pathway, and what is happening to our HIV patients.
When did you first learn that the hospital would be used to treat COVID-19 patients and when did the first patients arrive?
It was around 25 March and the first patient arrived a few days later.
Could you expand on exactly how the hospital is being used to assist these COVID-19 patients and where have they come from?
Mildmay is being used in two ways, firstly, to step-down patients from NHS Acute Trusts who are taking the brunt of COVID-19 admissions, and secondly, to treat homeless patients who have had COVID-19 and no longer require intensive care so are well enough to complete their recovery in a unit such as Mildmay, before being discharged.
How many COVID-19 patients have been treated admitted to the Mildmay and is the hospital full of patients with coronavirus?
It has been a relatively low number to date (3).
We have mostly been used as step-down for other patients in order to clear those NHS Acute Trust beds, but we currently have seven patients scheduled to be admitted. So we are definitely not full of patients with coronavirus.
Do you know how long Mildmay Hospital and its staff will be used to treat COVID-19 patients?
For at least the next four months.
Does this secure the long-term future of the hospital?
It gives us a chance of a longer-term future. The hospital has the opportunity to demonstrate that we can effectively treat patients who are homeless, thus opening up a new specialism.
Are any patients with HIV still being treated at the hospital? If so how are they being kept separate?
Yes, very much so. Because we have two separate wards, we are able to keep these patients in different areas of the hospital.
However, even if one of the HIV patients were to come in and then have COVID-19, we would be able to keep them isolated because every patient has their own room with bathroom facilities en-suite. This enables us to isolate patients.
Because our specialism is HIV, we operate in the same way as any infectious disease unit would, and our isolation protocols are second to none. This is effectively what we have done for over thirty years and we are very good at it.
In fact, according to the Care Quality Commission, we are one of the fewer than 5 per cent of hospitals that are ‘Outstanding’.
Thank you all so very much for your amazing support. Our campaign to avoid closure continues even as we admit new patients. It will continue until we are certain that our future is secured. So please keep sharing this petition and telling people about the #SaveMildmay campaign - you are our greatest asset!
Our original petition:
Patients living with HIV are set to lose their vital specialist services if the controversial closure of Mildmay Hospital in Shoreditch goes ahead.
The planned closure, blamed on NHS funding pressures, would close the doors on London’s only AIDS/HIV hospital, made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales when she visited in the 1980s and took the hand of a patient.
The cost – around £5m a year – represents a tiny slice of the NHS budget, and the cost of treating HIV patients in other parts of the NHS would be more expensive. Doctors, patients, MPs and campaigners are calling on the Government to grant Mildmay enough funding for another year, while new sources of income can be found.
Prince Harry, continuing his mother's passion, opened Mildmay’s brand new building in 2015 and it is still the only specialist hospital in Europe providing neurological rehabilitation for people with HIV.
Despite huge medical advances in the treatment of AIDS/HIV since the disease first came to the public’s attention in the 1980s, there are still a significant number of HIV patients in urgent need of the services Mildmay provides. NHS doctors say that this treatment will be required for years to come.
Even though Mildmay actually costs less per patient than acute NHS hospitals and its highly-skilled doctors, nurses and therapists are experts in specialist HIV care, desperately sick patients are not being transferred from London’s NHS hospitals and are blocking beds that are urgently needed by other patients.
Because Mildmay is a charity providing NHS services and not an NHS Trust, when it runs out of money, it will simply have to close. MPs and Government Ministers are considering whether Mildmay’s unique services can be commissioned directly by NHS England like other specialist services already are, but time is running out.
Geoff Coleman, Mildmay’s CEO said: ‘Frustrated doctors across London have already come out in support of Mildmay, saying that if the hospital closes, hundreds of NHS patients will suffer.
Overburdened NHS services just do not have the capacity to manage yet another group of patients with a chronic long-term condition such as HIV.’
Local MP Rushanara Ali said ‘‘Ministers must step in to save Mildmay Mission Hospital. Mildmay provides a vital specialist service for patients living with HIV. It would take £5m a year to keep Mildmay open, which is a tiny slice of the NHS budget. It is an entirely false economy to close this hospital and force patients into other parts of the NHS without the same medical specialism.
We are calling on the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to intervene and save Mildmay before it is too late.’
Addendum: To make donations directly to Mildmay UK, please go to this page on our website.
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