Hundreds of hospital beds have been freed up in Northamptonshire as the county’s health, social care and public sector organisations continue their significant joint efforts to cope with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

The local NHS, councils and emergency services are joining forces through the Northamptonshire Strategic Coordination Centre, working with partners in the voluntary, charity and private sector to prepare for the expected progression of COVID-19 infections. 

Measures are in place across Britain to slow the spread of the virus, with all citizens instructed to remain at home unless absolutely necessary – but the peak of the pandemic is still to come. 

Over the past fortnight a huge coordinated effort has been under way to ensure Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals have enough capacity to care for the expected increase in people with coronavirus over the coming weeks. 

This has included urgently discharging in-patients who are medically well enough to leave hospital – and as of 11.30am on Wednesday 1 April, there were 385 beds available across the two hospitals in readiness for an increase in demand. 

Toby Sanders, Chief Executive of NHS Northamptonshire CCG and Chair of the Strategic Coordination Group, said: “The past couple of weeks have witnessed an extraordinary effort from colleagues across the NHS, social care and the wider public sector to respond to this unprecedented and fast moving situation. 

“Thanks to the incredibly hard work of staff at our two acute hospitals, in care homes and out in the community – with support from families and carers – we have been able to safely discharge a great many people to free up hundreds of hospital beds ready for those who will need them most as the peak of COVID-19 infections approaches. 

“In the meantime, all agencies are continuing to plan and deliver the right action at the right time to protect and care for the most vulnerable people in our county. We ask that the people of Northamptonshire continue to support this work by following the clear government advice to Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.” 

Joanna Fawcus, Chief Operating Officer at Kettering General Hospital, said: “The partnership working across agencies has been amazing and has enabled us to safely discharge many patients from hospital to a more suitable environment. 

“My thanks go to the various teams and individuals who have played their part in making this happen and to our patients and their families for their understanding and cooperation, which has helped us to prepare for the expected increase in COVID-19 Patients.” 

Deborah Needham, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We have seen fantastic teamwork from the local hospitals and community, all supported by the CCG. This is a challenge which the whole partnership has taken on together, and this work will enable us to gain the required bed spaces for COVID-19 patients.  

“We know that hospital discharges can sometimes be difficult for patients and families, however the response we’ve received from our community has been amazing. Thanks to their support, we can make sure patients who no longer need acute care can move to the next step in their recovery. 

“There is more work to be done and our teams are ready for that challenge. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone involved. I am very proud and feel privileged to work with a great team and be a part of the NHS.” 

Patients safely discharged from hospital as part of the drive to free up beds in Northamptonshire have either returned home or have transferred to local care homes or into the care of NHS community services. 

Meanwhile, the Northamptonshire Strategic Coordination Centre’s hospital transfer and capacity team is continuing to make further plans to provide additional capacity as the pandemic progresses.  

These plans will be announced as and when they are confirmed. It is the top priority of the Northamptonshire Strategic Coordination Centre to take the right action at the right time to manage the county’s COVID-19 response, and all organisations are working closely together to facilitate this with support from central government.