As new Covid cases continue to soar in MK, the hospital has vetoed all visitors to adult wards.
The only exceptions will be patients nearing or at the end of life and patients who need carer support.
Visiting on the children and maternity wards will remain unchanged at this time. This means a parent can accompany a child at all times during their hospital visit and one birth partner can accompany a woman attending for antenatal care, labour and birth, and postnatal car.
All visitors will be asked to take a lateral flow test before attending the hospital, and to wear appropriate personal protective equipment at all times.
A hospital spokesman said: "The rapidly increasing spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the community, means that once again, the hospital will be significantly limiting visiting to patients to help protect against the spread of infection to those already sick and vulnerable."
Until December 29, bags containing patient’s property can be dropped off to the main reception between 9am and 5pm. s.
At the same time the hospital has launched a special Emergency Reserves plan to help bolster critical services in the event of a major incident or emergency in MK.
This is designed to counteract any overwhelming numbers of patients needing care, or exceptionally high levels of staff sickness.
The scheme will see staff who usually work behind the scenes select a role for redeployment to support either patient care or critical core services such as catering or cleaning if the hospital declares a major incident.
Up to 400 people will potentially be able to be redeployed in this way and all will receive training for the new roles. They will include providing care and comfort to patients on wards, providing administrative support on wards, or working in an essential corporate service within the hospital.
A spokesman said: "This is part of the hospital’s emergency preparedness as we prepare for a potentially significant wave of new Covid-19 infections with the Omicron variant."
The Emergency Reserves scheme goes hand-in-hand with continuity planning to establish which tasks or services must continue to be provided and which can be "temporarily paused without significant detriment to patient care and staff wellbeing.
Hospital chief executive Professor Joe Harrison said: “As we face a further wave of Covid-19 with Omicron, we have to plan for every eventuality and that includes significantly higher rates of staff sickness or absence, and the potential for large numbers of patients needing hospital care.
“We continue to ask a great deal of our staff and are again asking them to step forward to support the hospital if we find ourselves in a major incident or emergency where we urgently need more staff to provide support in critical roles.
“This scheme doesn’t mean that those staff who will be redeployed don’t already do vital work or that their existing roles aren’t necessary – they are, and they are skilled and valued members of Team MKUH – what it does mean is that in extreme circumstances all of us need to be prepared to work to keep critical patient services running."
He added: “Staff working in roles that are traditionally behind the scenes, like finance, HR, and wider corporate and administrative services, are being asked to select one of a number of roles to be redeployed into should the need arise. All these roles come with training to ensure staff being redeployed are able to work safely and competently. Not all these roles are providing support on wards – it is also vital we keep critical support services running for patients and staff.
“We have already seen very many of our support staff volunteer to help wards and core services in previous waves of Covid-19, and to staff vaccination centres both at the hospital and in the community. I am incredibly proud and continually humbled by the contribution of staff across the hospital. We may never reach a point of needing to redeploy our #TeamMKUH Emergency Reserves, but planning for every eventuality is the right thing to do, and I am tremendously grateful to every member of staff involved in the scheme.”
Meanwhile the hospital's Patient and Family Engagement Team have been working hard over Christmas to keep families connected at this difficult time. People can send a festive or New Year message and photographs to their loved one in our hospital by emailing [email protected].
Over the past 24 hours, 527 new Covid cases have been confirmed in MK and sadly another Covid death has been recorded.
The city's case rate (number of cases per 100,000 population) is now he case rate is now 1,308.6, which is above the national average rate of 1,095.2.