As we enter the further three week period of national lockdown, you continue to do amazing things to care for our patients and to support each other. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear stories of the fantastic work you are all doing in such challenging circumstances. This applies equally to those of you who are working on site at Addenbrooke’s, The Rosie or one of our other locations, and those of you who are working from home. You are all playing a vital role as members of our CUH family. Thank you.
I also want to take this opportunity to say a broader thank you on behalf of everyone at CUH for the support that we continue to receive from our local community. We have been inundated with good wishes, with gifts, with equipment and with donations to the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT). It is truly overwhelming.
As a Trust, we are currently treating 126 COVID-19 positive patients, 38 of whom are in critical care. Some of these are healthcare workers. We have continued to see an average of 8-10 new cases per day over the past week. In some parts of the country it appears that the number of new cases may have peaked. We cannot be sure yet whether that is the case in this region and indeed what the future holds, so we must continue to be prepared and respond accordingly.
Since the pandemic began, we have now treated 306 COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals. The vast majority of these are making a recovery but very sadly 37 patients have died. Our thoughts are with their loved ones and with our colleagues who have cared for them in the last days and hours of their lives.
We are continuing to make significant progress across our 11 taskforces and through the operation of our Bronze-Silver-Gold command structure. We are also working very closely with Royal Papworth and other hospitals in our region to support each other and provide the best possible response for our patients. In the past week, an increasing number of patients have been transferred to us from other hospitals which have been experiencing significant pressure. We are also acutely aware of the demands on other parts of the health and care system, including care homes, and we are working with the Clinical Commissioning Group and local authority to provide support where we can.
Among the many pieces of work that are taking place, I would like to draw out the following three things to update you on this week:
Testing : In addition to the ongoing programme of patient testing, our staff testing programme is now in place and running seven days a week. We are testing over and above the national requirements and we provided full details of the staff testing arrangements in the bulletin on Tuesday. Our priority remains to ensure the safety and welfare of all staff. We are also working closely with the University of Cambridge, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline to develop a high volume national testing facility here on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus with the potential to process up to 30,000 tests per day by mid-May.
Elective activity : At the start of the pandemic, we postponed a large amount of our elective work to create the capacity in the hospital to cope with the expected number of COVID-19 patients and to ensure that we could train enough staff to provide care on our red wards and in critical care. This has been an essential part of our response. Over the past week, our clinical and corporate teams have been working hard to identify how we can now safely re-open six of our theatres in the Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre and start to increase the number of elective cases that we are able to treat, alongside continuing to care for our COVID-19 positive patients. Based on a comprehensive risk assessment process, we will prioritise the most urgent cases. As I reported last week, we are also treating some of our patients in the independent sector. It goes without saying that we will need to keep this under careful review as we pursue our objective to maximise the number of lives saved and minimise suffering of both those infected with COVID-19 and other patients during the outbreak and afterwards.
Additional capacity : We are continuing to work with regional and national colleagues on potential surge capacity for the East of England, including the option of creating a regional surge centre here on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This is still work in progress and no final decisions have yet been taken. I will let you know as soon as we have further information on this.
Most importantly, please continue to take care of yourselves. In the current situation, we all face different emotions and challenges in both our working lives and our home lives. It is really important that we are there for each other and reach out when we need help and support, whatever that might be – including emotional and psychological support – or just someone to talk to after a difficult day or night. Details of the support available can be found here on the staff portal. I am so impressed by colleagues who, amongst of all of this activity and anxiety, are able to pause, perhaps with the support of the wellbeing apps that are also available through the staff portal, to take time to keep themselves well. We are also delighted to continue to offer the additional staff support outlined in earlier communications including the Staff Sanctuary, free meals, parking and accommodation.
These are times that none of us could have previously imagined. They are placing huge personal burdens on us all I want to once again say a huge thank you to each and every one of you for the dedicated and inspiring work that you are doing each and every day. You may see some glimpses of this work on BBC News this evening, following filming which took place yesterday with the BBC’s Health Editor, Hugh Pym. It is testament to the great work you are all doing that the BBC wanted to come to Cambridge to feature how the NHS is coping with the pandemic.