East Kent Hospitals Trust is anticipating a spend of more than £60 million for Covid costs covering 2020/21- including on preparations for a local ‘surge’ of the virus and for new 30-bed wards at QEQM in Margate and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
In papers discussed by board members it is revealed that a bid for £45million was submitted to NHSE last month to cover the cost impact of Covid on the Trust so far – with further bids expected to be made.
Funds committed include £1.8million on expanding ITU (Intensive Therapy Unit) capacity and £1.3 million on ventilators.
There is also a spend of £734,192 for build works as part of a 21 bed ‘surge solution’ should Covid cases spike again. The report says this is to ensure the “ability to quickly repurpose and ‘surge’ capacity locally, should it be needed again.”
These are anticipated to be in place by September and will also incur an estimated £10 million in running costs for a full year.
A £22.5million capital spend is earmarked for the two 30 bed wards which will open in January 2021 and have estimated annual running costs of £6.2 million.
There are fears of a second wave of the virus when the winter draws in, especially as more people will show Covid-like symptoms as a result of seasonal illnesses, such as flu.
The government says it will be rolling out the biggest ever flu vaccination programme in the history of the UK.
A further £3.3 million is needed by the Trust for the 2020/21 financial year – growing to £6.5million for a full year – for extended pathology hours for an increase in Covid antigen testing and other services.
In her report to the board Trust chief exec Susan Acott said: “During the last few months, the NHS has been through one of its greatest tests. And we will continue to deal with the many challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic for the foreseeable future.”
A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said: “We are starting to carefully and safely re-open some hospital services, but it is important that we also make plans to ensure we will continue to have enough capacity to be able to care for any sudden increase in the number of people who are very ill and need specialist treatment.
“As part of this we have put in a bid for additional funding to NHS England and NHS Improvement and we are waiting for the outcome of this.
“If the bid is successful, we will be converting the surgical admissions lounge at the William Harvey Hospital into intensive care beds.
“We are also planning to be able to increase capacity at both William Harvey Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital by up to 30 beds on each site, assuming the funding is confirmed.
“We have recently expanded our emergency department and critical care facilities at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate, and we have begun a ten-week building programme at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, to increase its treatment areas.”
The building work at QEQM included five additional cubicles in the emergency department, a side room and a room dedicated to patients with mental health needs.
The work at William Harvey Hospital includes 11 additional cubicles in the emergency department, 8 ITU beds, and a new, larger Surgical Emergency Admissions Unit, which will free up space in the emergency department.
It also includes a women’s ambulatory unit at William Harvey Hospital, which will mean women with specific conditions can be treated in a dedicated environment, away from the emergency department.
Additional building work on wards at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital and William Harvey Hospital will provide more PPE ‘donning and doffing rooms’, additional internal doors and increased hand washing facilities.
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust is set to receive an additional £1.5m from government in order to support A&E capacity ahead of the winter months. In addition, Kent & Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership will gain another £750,000.
KCHT provides care at settings including people’s own homes; nursing homes; health clinics; community hospitals; minor injury units; a walk-in centre and in mobile units.
East Kent Hospitals did not receive a share of the government funding.
Across England, the Government is providing £300 million to A&E departments, with work to be completed by the start of next year so hospitals can benefit from the upgrades during the peak of winter.