8 May 2020, 9 a.m.

Two thirds of COVID-19 patients who received intensive care at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals have been discharged.

In total, 57 patients who were critically unwell have now recovered. Data for the period 15 March to 1 May 2020 show that 68% of those who needed intensive care survived. In that period, 87 patients have been treated in intensive care.

Clinicians say the high ratio of survival is a strong signal of success in response to the pandemic locally and have put this down to extensive planning, the professionalism, dedication and compassion of healthcare staff across Gloucestershire and the public’s ongoing support in continuing to obey strict lock down rules.

Dr David Windsor, Clinical Lead for Critical Care in Gloucestershire, said: “Our response to this pandemic to date has filled me with immense pride. It’s been quite incredible to see the levels of co-operation, commitment and compassion shown by healthcare staff not only within the Department of Critical Care but throughout the hospitals more generally and across the health and care system in Gloucestershire.

"Every single member of our team – domestics, nurses, ward clerks, therapists, managers and doctors have stepped up to deliver the best possible care in very unique and challenging circumstances.”

Traditionally the Department of Critical Care (DCC) in CGH and GRH, rated outstanding by the health and care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has capacity to treat up to a maximum of 18 ventilated patients. As part of carefully considered plans to manage the COVID-19 pandemic arrangements were in place to expand to 142 Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) beds across both hospitals of which 91 were equipped with ventilators.

Dr Windsor added: “To put that into some kind of context, it usually takes a department such as ours several years to increase capacity by even two beds. The scale of what we’ve achieved in response to the pandemic has been unprecedented in my career and to be part of a team that has helped 87 of the most seriously ill patients leave our hospitals has been both amazing and humbling.

"We’ve only been able to achieve this thanks to the collective efforts of the whole team here at the hospitals as well as the support of the local community. By staying at home the public has played its part in helping to protect and save our NHS and it’s vitally important that they continue to do so. ”

Right across the NHS in Gloucestershire, huge efforts have been made to transform the way care is provided to create capacity for COVID-19 patients while ensuring that essential services continue. This has involved fundamental changes in local hospitals, community services and GP surgeries.

Dr Mark Pietroni, Director of Safety and Medical Director, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the outcomes we have achieved for our local patients however, despite achieving outcomes amongst the best, local people have died as a result of COVID-19 and those losses are being felt by every single family touched by this tragedy. That’s why it’s so important to continue staying at home in order to save lives and protect the NHS.”

Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’ve only been able to plan in such a strong way thanks to the co-operation and collaboration of the health and care family locally in Gloucestershire. This includes the services in our hospitals and the support for on-going care and recovery in the community.

"Whether it’s the dedication of individual staff, support for the vital changes we have made together across services, the multi-agency effort on PPE or this expansion to testing arrangements, everyone has been pulling out all the stops to keep people as safe as possible and ensure the best possible care is made available.

"We know that COVID-19 will remain in the community for a sustained period and the NHS and its partners are currently exploring options for how the Gloucestershire Health and Care system responds to future phases of this pandemic.”

Dr Amjad Uppal, Medical Director of Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We remain committed across the system, including in our community and mental health hospitals, to reducing the number of deaths as much as possible and to protect our NHS services.

"We’re beginning to see the benefits associated with people staying at home and social distancing and while it is hard, particularly as the weather improves, it’s vitally important that we continue to abide by these measures.”