Hull’s hospitals are preparing for months of admissions of patients with COVID-19 following the first wave of cases.

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (HUTH) believes Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital experienced a peak of the virus on April 21, with 110 confirmed patients. Demand for critical care beds peaked on May 2 with 20 patients.

Jacqueline Myers, Director of Strategy and Planning at HUTH, said: “It is now clear that rather than experiencing a short but intense peak of COVID-19 hospital admissions, we can expect a prolonged period of relatively small levels of activity.”

In response, the trust is reconfiguring its hospital beds again to provide a smaller, dedicated facility for patients with COVID-19. Some wards identified as COVID-19 wards will now be returned to their original purpose for people with other illnesses and injuries not related to the virus.

A new receiving area for those suspected of having COVID-19 and beds for people confirmed to have the infection will be part of a new ward block at the back of Hull Royal Infirmary for up to 64 patients.

The new facility is expected to be completed by mid-June. In addition, a dedicated COVID-19 critical care facility for up to 14 patients with the most severe forms of the illness will be opened.

Every patient admitted to Hull Royal infirmary or Castle Hill Hospital is tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms or not, and a revised plan will be brought into action if there is any surge in COVID-19 illness over the coming months.

New ways of working have already been introduced during the pandemic to deliver care while keeping face-to-face contact and travel to a minimum for patients.  Teams are currently evaluating those changes to keep the ones providing the biggest benefits to staff and patients.

The trust, part of the Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System (ICS), is also  working with other health and care organisations across the region to cope with pandemic in the months ahead.

Ms Myers said the uncertainty associated with any pandemic made planning “extremely difficult” as the situation could change day by day.

She said:

“We are used to planning with a level of uncertainty in the health service but we have never dealt with the level of uncertainly we are dealing with currently.

“However, we are working closely with our clinical teams to ensure we create the best possible arrangements to care for both COVID-19 and other patients who need our services over the coming months.”