A star of adaptation

The Montefiore Hospital’s Outstanding Response to Covid in Healthcare Award recognised its early response to the crisis while ensuring its cancer patients continued to receive care throughout the pandemic.

Director of clinical services Lynette Awdry said: ‘When we opened our doors in 2012, little did we know we would be supporting our NHS colleagues during a global pandemic eight years later.’ 

The accolade was given to the hospital in Hove, East Sussex, because it demonstrated ‘a strong culture delivering better care, excellent communication, early responses, adapting to and overcoming challenges during the pandemic including the turn-around of a challenging situation in healthcare’.

The Montefiore’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak and Govern­ment lockdown restrictions was ahead of its competitors in the region.

In early March last year, before any national directive, the hospital’s management team had already decided to stop elective surgery, focusing only on time-critical procedures, such as cancer, and had informed all affected patients.

Simultaneously, the hospital completed a detailed assessment of its own resources and skill set and, by the Easter weekend 2020, had made a proposal to Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust – recently renamed Univer­sity Hospitals Sussex – to become a ‘green’ oncology Covid NHS hub.

The geography of the entire hospital was redesigned with designated zones – red, amber, green – for patients on different pathways to keep them safe. 

The hospital ward was one such protected zone and on-call beds were created to enable clinicians to stay on site if required.

Based on the proposal, the trust assigned The Montefiore to be a regional hub for clinically urgent surgery. The trust’s leads came to view the hospital, so they could then inform their patients.

By 15 April, The Montefiore was running theatre lists and a Covid swabbing and pre-op test service for NHS time-critical patients. It was the first independent hospital in the region to do surgery of any volume. 

The hospital quickly adapted to digital technology to communicate with patients, GPs, consultants and staff. Zoom was used to host GP information events, patient physiotherapy classes and cancer support groups, daily staff meetings, to communicate with other private hospitals and weekly meetings with the trust.  

At the same time, it continued to provide care for its cancer patients, including practical and emotional support such as launching a home delivery service for chemotherapy drugs, and making regular contact with chemotherapy patients via Zoom or phone to see how they were coping.