Agenda item

LTHT update on the impact and response to the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services responding to the Board’s request to receive an update from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on the impact and response to the Covid-19 Omicron variant.


The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report to provide an update from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) surrounding the impact of the Covid-19 Omicron variant on service delivery and how the Trust is responding to try and mitigate this impact. The Board’s request also expressed an interest to understand how the Trust is working to particularly address the impact on elective care patients in terms of reducing waiting times for elective surgery.


The following were in attendance for this item:

·  Councillor S Arif, Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles

·  Councillor F Venner, Executive Member Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships

·  Cath Roff, Director of Adults and Health

·  Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health

·  Clare Smith, Chief Operating Officer LTHT

·  Rob Newton, Associate Director Policy & Partnerships LTHT


The update was provided in the form of a PowerPoint presentation during the meeting and included the following information:

·  The number of Covid-19 positive patients in LTHT statistics March 2020 – January 2022. The data compared the Omicron wave in relation to other waves and it was reported that:

o  There was less demand on principal care due to population immunity

o  There is less Covid-19 related deaths

o  There were a number of patients with Covid from the Delta wave already in hospitals, prior to the Omicron wave that presented new challenges

o  Covid admissions rapidly changed how the hospitals operate

·  Staff absences March 2020 – June 2022 data, from suspected Covid-19 sickness absence, shielding and Test and Trace. It was noted that there were huge pressures on staff absences, equating to 12.5% staff absent.

·  The current position across hospitals. There are currently 66 patients in LTHT hospitals positive with Covid-19 and the cases across Leeds remain high.

·  Responding to the Omicron wave included actions across the Trust and with partners such as:

o  Creating capacity – conversion and opening of wards to establish 10 wards to care for Covid positive patients; curtailment of elective activity to make more wards available; and increasing the rate of discharge and reduce the number of patients staying in hospital who could be cared for at home.

o  Reducing risk – additional Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to restrict transmission within the hospital.

o  Vaccination – responding to the target to increase booster vaccinations through the centre at Elland Road.

o  Nightingale – the build of a temporary structure in a St James’ University Hospital car park during January. This facility has not been required and completion works on it have been paused

·  The number of patients in hospital with No Reason to Reside has gradually increased since April 2020.

·  Elective surgery – current position on the total waiting list for patients awaiting treatment. It was reported that there are over 75k patients waiting, and the number of people waiting 104 weeks has increased due to the Omicron surge.

·  Actions to address the backlog in elective operations, diagnostics, and outpatients including:

o  Current activity – elective operations have continued throughout the pandemic and LTHT continue to prioritise clinically urgent patients. It was reported that LTHT completed 583 elective operations in the last week of January 2020.

o  Increasing capacity – it is the start of the Appointments Hub that will allow patients to book and amend appointments online, with more operations taking place on weekends and there are additional MRI and CT facilities.

o  Improving productivity – improvement actions across electives, outpatients, and diagnostics to improve utilisation and productivity; and the review of IPC measures continue

o  Improving access – increased capacity for face-to-face outpatient appointments; revising the priority for patients who have waited over 80 weeks; and recruitment of more staff and agency staff

o  Work with partners – extensive work is on-going city wide to reduce the demand from emergency admissions and support people to be discharged; a national contract with the Independent Sector has allowed for more operations to take place; and patients offered treatment at other hospitals in West Yorkshire.

·  Elective Hubs Programme – new and protected facilities for elective operating.

·  Wharfedale – funding has been secured for one new mobile theatre, subject to planning approval; enabling works are expected to begin week commencing 14 February and facility commissioned and ready to use Spring 2022; the proposals would not remove any existing staff and patient parking within the site; the ambulance transport drop off / pick up area will temporarily be removed.

·  Other sites – maximising theatre capacity at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’ University Hospital; assessing the feasibility of expanding ward and theatre capacity at Chapel Allerton; this allows more orthopaedic surgery and more complex surgery to take place at Chapel Allerton; staff patients and the public will be engaged and involved in any development proposals at Chapel Allerton.


Members discussions included:

·  Clarity was sought on Vanguard Operating Theatres and it’s intended use.

·  Clarity was sought on the use of Nightingale Hospital beds. It was acknowledged that the LTHT Board agreed to only use Nightingale facilities for its original purposes, unless the Omicron surge overwhelmed services and facilities in Leeds. However, it was agreed that an update position would be provided to Members.

·  Acknowledging the impact on mental health for patients waiting 104 weeks for elective surgery, and the need to work with partners to reduce the waiting time. Members were informed that the priority will remain treating cancer / high priority patients who need acute care and patients who have waited a long time. City partners will be worked with to create additional capacity across sites and improving workforce availability.

·  A member queried whether any analysis has been undertaken on the direct impact of waiting times. In response, members were informed of a platform to improve transparency on wait times and provide additional patient support.

·  A member commended the operation of Wharfedale Hospital. It was acknowledged that there is work to do around supporting patients in terms of accessing the hospital and work around access will form part of the overarching strategy. There is also an opportunity to create protected capacity, to ensure patients are being treated quicker.


The Chair thanked those in attendance.


RECOMMENDED – That the contents of the report and presentation, along with Members comments, be noted.


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