Durham and Darlington hospitals praised for patient safety amid coronavirus

THE family of a 101-year-old woman has praised the NHS for their safety precautions for routine hospital visits during the coronavirus pandemic.

When Jean Brown, from Darlington, received a letter to attend an appointment in the ophthalmology clinic, her family discussed the risks and benefits of her going to a hospital where Covid-19 patients were also receiving care.

Her son, Martyn Brown, said: “Mam has been under the care of the ophthalmology, macular degeneration service at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and there’s no doubt she has benefited from injections which have helped preserve her sight. However, she’s 101 and when she received the appointment we did discuss as a family whether she should attend.”

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the retina and Dawn Nosair, and until about 20 the diagnosis lead to inevitable blindness, as there was no treatment.

Now injections can help preserve sight for many patients, but this requires patients to attend regular appointments for monitoring.

“I was able to discuss our concerns with one of the doctors, after which our family agreed that mam should attend. It’s a one-stop clinic which can take a couple of hours but it means all the sight tests and photographs are done on the same day, meaning there’s no need to return until the next check-up. “There was a hand sanitisation station, all the staff wore PPE, and there were few people around which made it easy to social distance.

“Mam didn’t need her injection in the end, but we are reassured she will be ok until her next check up.”

As the number of Covid-19 cases reduced, the Trust’s focus has switched to restarting services such as outpatients and elective surgery whilst also being prepared for a potential increase in further Covid-19 patients.

Executive medical director, Jeremy Cundall said patients may be offered a visit to the virtual clinic, but should they need to visit in person there are strict infection control and social distance policies in place.

“Masks are compulsory for staff and face coverings for visitors on all our sites,” she said. “Hand sanitiser is available and we’ve redesigned waiting areas and restricted lift capacity. All of this is supported with our staff are wearing PPE for all patient contact.

“We also want people to seek medical advice rather than risking their condition deteriorating and becoming more difficult to treat.”

Ms Cundall also stressed at both University Hospital of North Durham and Darlington Memorial Hospital the Emergency Departments for Covid-19 patients, and those showing symptoms, are kept entirely segregated from and non-Covid-19 patients.

Yorkshire Evening Post