Harrogate NHS boss reassures residents hospital is safe as routine appointments resume
Residents across the district are being urged not to delay dealing with pressing medical concerns as everyday services resume at the hospital.
As Harrogate District Hospital enters its ‘recovery’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic, officials at the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDNFT) are encouraging members of the public to ensure they are looking after their health and tending to any medical issues they may have been ignorning.
It comes as attendance at A&E departments across the country has dropped throughout the pandemic, with many people saying they have been too worried about catching the virus to visit the hospital for urgent matters.
Steve Russell, Chief Executive at HDNFT, is reassuring residents that the hospital is a safe space with a list of measures in place to protect patients and says it is vital that people attend when necessary.
He said: “Our teams have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic but as we enter the recovery phase, they are working hard to get services up and running again in a world where Covid-19 is still a reality, as we are sure it will be for a while.
“We are taking all necessary measures to make sure the hospital is a safe place to be and minimise the risk of coronavirus across other hospital departments.”
Measures which have been introduced include screening both staff and patients for coronavirus ahead of their appointments, segregated routes as well as separate entrance and exit points and staff staying within the same departments wherever possible to minimise the contamination risk.
For some departments, such as Day Surgery, designated drop-off points have been assigned and patients are being met at their cars before being escorted inside by a member of staff in full PPE.
In Outpatients, on the day of someone’s appointment they are asked to use the main entrance of the hospital on arrival, where they will be provided with a face mask and hand sanister before being directed to their department.
They will then be asked some key questions about showing signs of Covid-19 symptoms or if they have been shielding.
Consideration has been given to the Outpatient environments to ensure that social distancing can be maintained in waiting areas and a signposted one-way system is in place where possible.
This does mean fewer patients can be accommodated at any one time, so patients are asked to only arrive at the hospital 10 minutes before their appointment time.
The number of appointments on offer is also being limited, as less people can now be accommodated in waiting areas and cleaning time is needed in between patients.
Those who are entering the hospital for day surgery are being tested for coronavirus two weeks before their appointment and then asked to self-isolate where possible until they come back, in a bid to limit the risk of infection.
Whilst the new measures are hugely important to protect the safety of both patients and staff, they may take some getting used to - and Mr Russell is urging people to be patient and understanding.
He said: “We understand this is not what people are used to and it will take a while to readjust.
“What we are asking is that patients remember we are doing this to keep everyone safe and it is in their best interests.
“It will be a while before things can go back to normal, whatever normal is, but we are trying our best to get somewhere similar and we need the support of the public to do so.”
The Trust says appointments will be dealt with in order of urgency whilst the services on offer are still limited.
But one thing Mr Russell has made clear is how much effort has gone into making the hospital safe and how incredible his staff have been.
He added: “Our NHS is a sparkling jewel in the crown of the country and the teams in Harrogate have proved that.
“I am humbled and inspired by how well they have done and how well they keep doing in the face of so much adversity.
“When you pause and reflect on the last few months, it really does bring a lump to your throat.”
The NHS will have been running for 72 years this Sunday, July 5, and the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust is urging residents to join in with a nationwide round of applause to show their support.
The clap will take place at 5pm and will be a celebration of those who have worked for the NHS across its lifetime - including the heroes who have been on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.
Broadcasts will be suspended as the nation takes part in the event.
The NHS says it will be saying its own big thank you to everybody who has helped it continue doing its job in the face of the biggest health challenge it has ever faced.
And on Saturday evening, July 4, residents will be asked to put a light in their windows in remembrance of those we have lost during the Covid-19 crisis.
Public buildings will be lit up in NHS blue, including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch.
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