Hospital canteen is turned into a ward to deal with Omicron surge

A hospital has closed its staff restaurant and car park to make space for more beds as cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus rise.

Royal Preston Hospital, in Lancashire, is building a Covid-19 Nightingale Surge Hub in its visitor car park, which has capacity for 100 beds.

It also has shut its staff canteen, Charters Restaurant, temporarily as of Tuesday to make space for another 50 beds.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said: ‘The NHS across Lancashire and South Cumbria is preparing contingency plans in the event that Omicron cases continue to rise.

‘These include a focus on safely discharging patients home as quickly as possible, increased levels of virtual wards and home oximetry to allow people to be treated within their own homes.

‘We have also identified and are preparing additional surge capacity within hospitals to provide extra beds.

‘Our colleagues have been notified that Charters restaurant will temporarily close from January 4 to allow us to prepare the space for potential use by patients if the Omicron variant of Covid-19 results in the need for additional surge beds to be required.’

The restaurant is usually open seven days a week between 8am to 2pm, and provides staff with hot meals, sandwiches and salads.

Workers will still have access to a canteen at the back of the hospital grounds, as well as a Costa Coffee shop and café at the front entrance.

The hospital has also earmarked its physio gyms as potential spaces for extra beds if needed.

The spokesperson added: ‘We are also looking at other potential space including our physio gyms and in total around 50 beds could be provided by using such space.

‘And finally, if all other options are exhausted, we will have a Nightingale Surge Hub based on the Preston site which would service the wider region and provide up to 100 extra beds for recovering patients.

‘Car Park B (visitor car park) opposite the main reception has also been closed to allow the enabling work for the new Nightingale Surge Hub to be carried out.

‘We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales, and the same applies to these hubs (we are one of eight nationwide).

‘But it is the right thing to do to put these plans in place.’

It comes as the Army is being drafted into London hospitals to help replenish staff numbers while many are having to isolate with Covid-19.

Military medics will assist doctors and nurses with patient care, while general duty personnel will help fill gaps caused by other absences.

The Royal College of Nursing has said this means Boris Johnson can no longer deny there is a ‘staffing crisis’ within the NHS.

The prime minister denies the health service does not have enough staff to cope with the pressures it is facing, despite dozens of hospitals declaring critical incidents in recent days.

He said in a Downing Street press conference earlier this week that England could ‘ride out’ the latest wave without the need for further restrictions – yet still admitted the NHS was on a ‘war footing’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source: Read Full Article