SEPARATE wards for Covid assessment, moving staff based on their skillsets and video consultations are some of the preparations RUH Bath has made to tackle coronavirus.

RUH medical director, Dr Bernie Marden said the hospital went into "incident status" at the end of January and this measure has helped the hospital and its staff adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "The biggest change is in some of the re-designation of the wards to be repurposed for different sorts of care and finding new ways to manage our existing caseload without compromising on quality and safety."

For the hospital this has meant cancelling non-urgent and elective surgeries, doing phone and virtual consultations and moving their cancer patients to off-site facilities in partnership with the independent sector.

Dr Marden added: "It has meant, unfortunately, that some routine work has needed to be postponed, but this has helped us increase our capacity to deal with some of the urgent cases seeing and expecting to increase over the coming weeks."

Likewise, the hospital moved to ensure that care packages and access to care home beds were put in place.

Dr Marden said: “Most of the big plans we needed to enact to get to a place of absolute readiness have already taken place.”

This has allowed the staff and the hospital to vreate the capacity they anticipate requiring.

Despite the “steady and slow” increase in patients worried about having Covid-19, Dr Marden said that the hospital’s ability to manage and give these patients the appropriate care has proven to be “very good”.

To do this the RUH has set up wards specifically for high dependency and critical care, as well as opening a “respiratory assessment unit” which allows patients showing symptoms of coronavirus to be assessed and given the proper care in a dedicated facility.

The hospital said that their teams have “pulled together in a supportive way” in the face of the current Pandemic – this includes front line staff being redeployed across other teams.

Dr Marden said: “We’ve been able to reassure staff that we have good plans in place of how we are going to deal with this emergency. And also, in terms of assuring them that we’re doing everything we can to support them and keep them safe.”

The hospital also said that they have "complete confidence" in their supply of PPE for staff and place in the NHS supply chain.

He said: "We are also making sure that we’re using it appropriately and staff are using the right PPE in the right setting to make sure that we’re putting it all to very good use."

These large-scale changes have swept throughout all levels of the NHS, including by the hospital's cleaners, porters and receptionists.

Dr Marden said: "It’s been a complex piece of work to review all that and support redeployment decisions. We're talking with staff to make sure that all the right support from all the right people is in the right locality.

"This has resulted in staff changing their job roles or needing to be working in a different locality."

Campaigns such as #clapfornhs to support front line staff have been "heart-warming" for everyone at RUH, but Dr Marden said the biggest impact has come from changes in behaviour.

Dr Marden added: "This is a challenging time and it's not easy for our teams but to know that everyone is behind us and offering those gestures of support is fantastic.

"In this area, we’re seeing very strong compliance with the advice to stay at home. It’s really important that that continues, so more than anything we’re grateful for that."