Health bosses forced to consider special field hospital tents to cope with unprecedented surge of sick people in Milton Keynes

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Strep A, flu, Covid and respiratory infections are stretching health services to the limit

Health bosses have not ruled out deploying temporary field hospitals to cope with the current unprecedented surge in "very sick’ patients in MK.

An increase in Strep A, Covid, flu and respiratory infections such as RSV is putting A&E under extreme pressure, causing huge waiting times and high numbers of admissions at the city’s hospital.

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A spokesperson for NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) said this week that the field hospital plan, which would involve special tents in hospital grounds, is an option to cope with the demand.

Tents could be set up in the hospital grounds for patientsTents could be set up in the hospital grounds for patients
Tents could be set up in the hospital grounds for patients

They said: “Health services across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes are experiencing unprecedented demand. In response, we have been working with partners to consider as many options as possible to ensure local people get the care they need.

"Although one of these options is to create temporary field hospitals, there are no plans to deploy temporary field hospitals imminently.”

Meanwhile, MK hospital bosses today warned they have run out of space to keep infected patients separated from other sick people. And they are about to restrict visitors in a bid to keep infections at bay.

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A MKUH spokesman said: “We are experiencing very high numbers of patients being admitted with potentially infectious respiratory conditions. We continue to do everything that we can to try and minimise the impact of this, but at this time we are not always able to totally separate the care of those with a respiratory condition and those who are not displaying symptoms of respiratory illness.

They added: “It is now likely that patients admitted to our hospital will be cared for in an area where other patients have respiratory infections. Visitors also need to be aware that they are coming into an area that is likely to have people being cared for with infectious respiratory conditions and visitors come at their own risk.”

“We are encouraging our inpatients to minimise their contact with other patients, and to have good hand hygiene..

“As of this week, we are restricting our visiting, so that every adult inpatient should only have one visitor at a time, and those attending our emergency department should be accompanied by only one person.”

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Visitors have also been asked to wear masks again in many areas of the hospital.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, Chief Medical Director of BLMK, has put out a special message to the public.

She said: “With Group A Strep, flu and Covid-19 infections circulating in our communities, we are seeing an increase in the number of very sick people who need urgent care in our area.

“This means that all organisations from primary care to social care, mental health, community care, hospitals and ambulance services are working hard to meet the growing demand. It also means that people are waiting longer to access health and care services locally.”

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People are urged to call 111 first if they need help and also to get their flu, Covid and pneumonia (over 75s only) vaccines.

More information about how to get your jabs is available on the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Health and Care Partnership website.

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