Posted: Mon 11th Jan 2021

High care respiratory unit expanded to ‘completely different part of the hospital’ to help deal with influx of cases for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jan 11th, 2021

Medical Director at Wrexham Maelor Hospital has described the situation at the hospital “pretty hectic.”

He said the hospital is largely focused on medical inpatient work of which “a big chunk of that is obviously focused on COVID.”

Dr Stanaway spoke with BBC Radio Wales this morning and said, “There’s been an awful lot of rearrangement and more deployment of staff which creates a lot of issues on its own despite the flexibility that our staff show.”

“The hospital is working under quite a lot of pressure at the minute, people are tired, people are having to get used to new working environments and that in itself makes the hospital an unusual place to work compared to what we’re used to.”

He said the hospital has had to step down elective (pre planned) surgery “which has been a big disappointment to everyone in the health board, not just in the hospital.”

“That has created a bit more feeling of stress and anxiety not least for the people who are hoping to get their surgery this week.”

“We’ve got a particular stress and pressure on our critical care unit and our high care respiratory unit which have both had to deal with rapidly increasing numbers coming through the doors.”

“Case rates within Wrexham and Flintshire are numbers which are really quite alarming and just to put them into context, the current Welsh average rate per 100,000 is sitting at around 450″ – on Sunday’s figures Wrexham is 897 per 100k.

“In Wrexham, we’re about double the Welsh average and that puts us just behind places like London on a UK basis, that’s a huge amount of disease burden within the community.”

Dr Stanaway said there are 125 people with Covid as inpatients currently in the hospital.

He said: “14 are now sitting in critical care, receiving either what we call level two or level three care, level three being people who are technically with invasion ventilation.”

“We’ve also got 16 people in what we call our high care respiratory unit which is next door to the critical care unit.”

Dr Stanaway said the numbers in the high care respiratory unit have increased since Wednesday by 45%.

“We have so many are now on that unit we’ve had to expand into a completely different part of the hospital, and that’s very logistically difficult for the staff and the management” He said.

“The number of inpatients being treated for Covid has risen by nearly 117% since Christmas Eve.”

“You can see the impact this has and the numbers if you look at the graphs, it’s exponential and quite a terrifying graph to look at.”

Asked if he fears the worst could still be yet to come Dr Stanaway said: “I think we’ve asked ourselves that a little bit but I want to try and reassure the public the hospital and the health board are working flat out to ensure that we are at the most efficient.”

Dr Stanaway said management and clinical teams are working “very much together” to make sure they are ready for the next phase of “what might hit us.”

“There does come a point of course where you wonder yourself how bad will it get”

He said Wrexham Maelor already had 112 Covid patients admitted in the first nine days of January and it is predicted that could be around 360 by the end of the month.

“Compare that to April at the height of the pandemic, we had 286 people, so it’s a lot more.” Said Dr Stanaway.

“The worry from the staff’s point of view is how much more stretching we can go to, that’s why the plea to the public is to use the hospital only if you absolutely need to.”

“We absolutely want to see you if you’re unwell, but if you can wait or seek care somewhere else such as a GP, pharmacy minor injuries unit or NHS111 then please do that to give us that little bit of headspace.”

Dr Stanway said he expects things to get worse before they get better and the other thing they are tackling is staff shortages due to self isolating and illness.

He said: “Latest figures show we’ve got 149 staff self isolating at the moment.”

“That does land heavily on nurses and doctors who are very much the front line and patient facing.”

“I will just pay absolute tribute to our staff, in all the years I’ve worked for the NHS which is 27 years now, 17 as a consultant four and a bit as a medical director, the resilience, dedication and professionalism that our staff is showing is absolutely unbelievable.”

“It makes me and a lot of all my colleagues hugely proud to be part of this effort to fight this, we have never faced what we’re facing before as a health service, let alone as a hospital.”

“The way that the NHS has rallied around particularly locally is just a sight to behold but we do have to bear in mind that people are tired, people are stressed and it does put a strain on.”

Asked about people not following the rules and restriction which are in place to protect them and the NHS, he added, “I think what people have got to realise, and I know people hear this all the time from politicians and journalists, but this virus is dangerous, it is hurting people.”

“We’ve lost a lot of people to this in Wales, across the UK and locally within Wrexham and Flintshire.”

“I can’t say strongly enough, that we will get through this, but for now people just have to play by the rules.”

“Viruses don’t spread on their own, they live in human beings, this one does anyway and it spreads from human being to human being.”

“Yes possibly by surface contact with inanimate objects but generally it is between human beings.”

“The new variant is hugely transmissible even compared to the old variant that we were working with up until December.”

“If you are in contact with people you don’t need to be in contact with you run the risk of spreading it, even if your practice is safe.”

“Practises we were using before the new variant may no longer be adequate, staying home and staying away from others is the way to stop this.”

“You’ve got to take this seriously, we can’t deal with this any other way.”

An update from the Countess of Chester Hospital was also published last night:

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