At the NHS hospital which is treating more patients than before Covid and has no backlog despite 7.2million waiting lists

IT felt like a war zone during the pandemic as doctors and nurses struggled to save the sick and dying being rushed to a former Covid hotspot for treatment.

Hospitals across the country are still feeling the strain, and new figures released this week showed 7.2 million people were awaiting surgery as of October.

Millions of people are still waiting for the NHS backlog and Thursday's nurses' strike could result in up to 15,000 surgeries being cancelled

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Millions of people are still waiting for the NHS backlog and Thursday’s nurses’ strike could result in up to 15,000 surgeries being cancelledCredit: Alamy
But one hospital in London has bucked the trend, dubbed a

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But one hospital in London has bucked the trend, dubbed a “five-star hospital” by one patient.Credit: Olivia West
Lead surgeon Stella Vig admits the peak of the pandemic was terrifying

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Lead surgeon Stella Vig admits the peak of the pandemic was terrifyingCredit: Olivia West

And on Thursday, the nurses’ strike could see up to 15,000 surgeries canceled when 100,000 nurses in 76 hospitals and NHS organizations are due to take action.

But one hospital has bucked the trend. South London’s Croydon University Hospital has no backlog and is now performing 300 surgeries a week, up 11 per cent from the 270 it was doing before the pandemic.

A major restructuring at the height of Covid, creating a hospital within a hospital, was so successful that they have kept it even after the pandemic.

When The Sun visited on Sunday this week, one patient, mother of four Lilian Abemere, 41, described it as a “five star hospital”.

She said: “I imagine it’s similar to going private. Even the food is good. I never expected the treatment and attention I get here.”

Since July 2020, staff there have treated more than 30,000 patients who required surgery.

This includes more than 3,000 who have been referred from neighboring hospitals to reduce wait times for scheduled care or treatment.

content of the staff

The hospital is ranked among the top five trusts nationally for time-of-care referrals as of September.

In line with expected NHS standards, the vast majority of patients – 80.6 per cent – will be seen within 18 weeks.

And in Croydon, no patients wait more than 78 weeks for treatment, while across the country the wait can be more than two years.

Your staff will not join the nurses who are on strike across the country later this month over pay.

Lead surgeon Stella Vig told us: “Covid has been awful but it has given us opportunities as we are just so much more efficient now. I would never be the same again.”

The pandemic caused healthcare paralysis as more Covid patients poured into hospitals than staff could handle.

Surgeries, including life-saving cancer treatments, have been canceled or postponed.

And the backlog is still having an adverse effect, with the number on the NHS waiting list rising by 100,000 in the past month alone.

Croydon has been able to get back to normal by dividing the main building in two on a 19-acre site on Thornton Heath.

This created a division between the theaters, or operating rooms, used for elective, pre-planned surgeries and those used for everything else.

The upper floor became a hospital within a hospital, where staff and patients were rigorously tested for Covid – subjected to PCR tests and their temperature checked – before being allowed inside.

As of July 2020, only 20 patients have tested positive for Covid at the restricted-access hospital.

NHS leaders visited in August to see if the new model can be rolled out across the UK and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to staff in October.

He later told The Sun on Sunday: “Tackling the NHS Covid backlog is one of my top priorities and last month I saw firsthand how Croydon Hospital is leading the way. . . I want her success to be a blueprint for the whole NHS.”

PM Rishi Sunak spoke to staff in October

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PM Rishi Sunak spoke to staff in OctoberPhoto credit: No. 10 Downing Street
Croydon Hospital has managed to avoid the backlog by creating a Covid-free zone for elective surgeries

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Croydon Hospital has managed to avoid the backlog by creating a Covid-free zone for elective surgeriesCredit: Olivia West
From left to right: Paula Joyner, Talitha McDonald, Marianne Pitallano, Stella Vig and Jijeesh Marotikunnath from the medical team

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From left to right: Paula Joyner, Talitha McDonald, Marianne Pitallano, Stella Vig and Jijeesh Marotikunnath from the medical teamCredit: Olivia West

Stella said: “As a surgeon, I can come in and get on with my work. I would never be the same again.

“I used to start my theater list and there are no beds. I would go downstairs, let my patients walk in the ward, and find two I could persuade to go home so I could start my theater list upstairs.

“Then I would start my list late and everyone would have to work late, around 7:30pm, so we could finish. And that’s not easy when you have to pay for childcare.

“Now if you walk down the corridor you see how peaceful and quiet it is because this is the voting center and you only come in when you have an operation.”

Stella admits the size of Covid was terrifying.

She told us: “In March 2020 almost two-thirds of our beds were filled with Covid patients.

“The intensive care unit was overwhelmed. It was upsetting. We worried about getting Covid or our friends and family.

“Colleagues moved from home because they had vulnerable relatives and stayed in a hotel across the street for three months.

“I remember one night I was leaving work and I saw people clapping outside for the first time. I cried all the way home.

“But we’ve had people who haven’t had vital surgery for six months, so we had to move on.

“In the beginning we came up with a lot of crazy ideas that would never have worked.

“The original conversation was to have a surgery center at another hospital. But many people in Croydon cannot afford to travel.

“So we decided to put in a new door and build a separate hospital on the second floor with strict testing protocols.

“Within eight weeks we were back to doing what we were used to while the rest of the country was at a standstill.

“We received restructuring approval at the end of May 2020 and by July we were live.

“With the reconfiguration, we now have four ER rooms on the first floor.

“We now only have nine operating rooms for elective surgeries, two fewer than before, but we’re performing more surgeries, which benefits this team.”

Clinical Lead Practitioner Jijeesh Marotikunnath added: “The hospital felt like a war zone during the pandemic. Death became commonplace and people panicked.”

“One day we were treating a patient and the next they were dying – and we didn’t understand why they were dying so quickly.

“Across the country, there was a waiting list of two million, and it just kept getting longer. We were a Covid hotspot with Croydon having so many cases but we knew we had to catch the backlog.”

The scene today is remarkably different and a Sun on Sunday reporter saw the calm atmosphere over the restricted-access zone’s clean stations.

As Covid numbers ease and testing rules relax, there are no plans to go back to the old system.

Head Nurse Talitha McDonald is among those who will not go on strike.

She said: Our employees come during the train and bus strikes, if they have to walk, they walk to work. It was the same during the pandemic.

“You want to take care of patients and do your best. That’s what you sign up for, to take care of people.”

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6889109/inside-nhs-hospital-no-backlog-more-patients-after-covid/ At the NHS hospital which is treating more patients than before Covid and has no backlog despite 7.2million waiting lists

DevanCole

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