Case studies - supporting the NHS during COVID19

Independent healthcare providers have been playing a key role in supporting the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic and helping ensure that patients get the care they need in these most challenging of times.

This includes the recent historic deal whereby independent hospitals have put virtually all their capacity at the disposal of the NHS in responding to coronavirus, as well as an agreement for all independent sector CT scanning capacity to be used by the NHS support the accurate diagnosis of covid19.

Below are just some of the examples of how independent providers are supporting the fight against coronavirus.

Further information on an indicative set of offers from a variety of our members to support CCGs and Trusts during the Covid-19 pandemic can also be found here.

HomeLink Healthcare - supporting NHS Hospitals in Norfolk

Date of publication: 6th May 2020

HomeLink Healthcare is supporting their NHS partners in Norfolk through Virtual Ward and Early Supported Discharge services.

During February and March, creating capacity within hospital wards in preparation for the COVID-19 surge was a major challenge for already busy hospitals.  HomeLink Healthcare contributed to the re-configuration process by providing flexible capacity facilitating the early discharge home of patients, including those needing IV antibiotics at home,  as well as step down care before they can access social care services in the community.

As COVID-19 cases grew their services helped hospitals in Norfolk make best use of the limited number of ‘non-COVID-19’ beds. Providing home-based care for patients reduced hospital bed nights and avoided admissions, reducing demand on stretched resources and risk of cross infection.

As the recovery process starts there is a focus on the patients waiting for elective procedures. Many hospitals are operating with a reduced bed capacity as some wards have to be reserved for a second surge in COVID-19 cases. HomeLink’s services are helping make best use of available bed capacity by providing care for patients at home as soon as they are medically fit to be discharged.



Phoenix Hospital Group and Mid Essex NHS Trust

Date of publication: 9th Jun 2020

Phoenix Hospital Group (PHG) includes two fully equipped outpatient and diagnostic centres at 9 Harley Street and 25 Harley Street and two elective surgical hospitals –  the Weymouth Street Hospital and Phoenix Hospital Chelmsford. Phoenix Hospital Chelmsford are proud to be working alongside the local Mid Essex NHS Trust to ensure that patients suffering with skin cancer conditions are still able to attend their urgent consultations and have the time critical surgery they need.  As part of this initiative, the Trust have seconded medical and nursing teams to work collegiately alongside the Phoenix Hospital team and in 7 weeks over 2,100 patients have been consulted and treated.

Mr Kevin Beaton, Medical Director at Mid Essex NHS Trust  said: “As we struggled in  the Mid Essex Hospital Trust to work out how we could operate during the Covid-19 crisis, Phoenix Hospital Chelmsford has really stepped up to the plate for us. The ability to utilise their excellent facilities to continue with our essential urgent elective work has been invaluable. All the staff at Phoenix have been hugely supportive and the way the teams have come together to a common purpose has been an example of Team GB at its best.”

Mr Andrew Barker, Chief Executive of Phoenix Hospital Group said: “It has been a truly rewarding experience for Phoenix Hospital Chelmsford to be a part of this valuable  partnership. The whole team have worked fantastically in a spirit of patient focused partnership to ensure that essential care is delivered in a safe and timely manner”.

Virgin Care - providing innovative online consultations for the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service

Date of publication: 9th Jun 2020

As part of their Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service (ECFWS), which is provided in partnership with Barnardo’s to ensure that families have free and easy access to local health services in the community, Virgin Care has been leading the way in bringing in online consultations and group video sessions for many of its vital important services at the start of the pandemic allowing them to continue.

These include secure one-to-one video appointments from health visitors, pediatricians, family support workers and school nurses as well as the text messaging service CHAThealth, where young people can anonymously ask advice on a range of issues. Virtual group sessions are also being held for antenatal, infant feeding, school readiness and parent emotional wellbeing support.

Changing to online sessions so quickly has allowed ECFWS to continue delivering high quality help to the communities it serves while minimising infection risks by postponing face to face contact

Richard Comerford, Managing Director at ECFWS, said: “In line with national guidance, we have had to carefully, but speedily adapt how we deliver some of our services during the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard the safety and welfare of our service users and colleagues. This has included minimising face-to-face contact with some of the families that we work with.

“Virtual consultations, such as those carried out over first-class video technology, are helping guarantee not just safety, but also quality and efficiency of receiving support because one-to-one and group sessions usually require service users to visit Family Hubs or health visitors to enter other people’s households. It is so important that we continue our service and create a platform for our service users to talk to other people going through similar experiences which should provide some welcome extra support at this difficult time”

Adrian Coggins, a commissioner at Essex County Council, added: “We felt well-prepared to deliver a good response to COVID-19. The pioneering journey that ECFWS and Essex County Council is taking in defining target groups and outcomes, and prioritising efforts accordingly, has stood us in good stead in supporting those who are most vulnerable and need support for their wellbeing during COVID-19”.

Rosalind French, Head of Children, Young People & Maternity Commissioning at West Essex CCG, said: “It is incredibly positive that virtual consultations have allowed children and young people in West Essex to continue to receive vital support from their community practitioners to address their health care needs throughout this pandemic. The Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service has played a valuable role in keeping our communities safe and well.”

Spire Southampton & University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Date of publication: 1st May 2020

A partnership agreement has been reached between University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) and Spire Healthcare, enabling hundreds of patients with cancer to receive urgent treatment at Spire’s Southampton hospital, allowing UHS to focus on caring for people with COVID-19.

Spire Southampton has been working with staff at UHS to transfer Oncology and Haematology services to Spire. Since mid-March, more than 1400 NHS cancer patients have been treated at the hospital, and around 2500 patients have received care  for cancers including Gynaecological, Neurological; Ear, nose and throat; Gastrointestinal / colorectal; and urology. Spire Southampton are also supporting time-critical Cardiac and Lung surgery for NHS patients. The work is highly complex and over 70% of the patients requiring surgery need to be treated in Spire Southampton’s Critical Care Unit.

Paul Grundy, Consultant Neurosurgeon and Acting Medical Director at UHS, said: “It became very apparent early on we would not be able to deliver all of the urgent procedures patients required at a time when we were building up to high volumes of patients with COVID-19 infection.

“We’ve been very fortunate in Southampton that we have excellent relationships with our independent sector partners including Spire and that has seen them work very dynamically with us to enable new surgical lists and services at different sites in different locations very quickly.

“With Spire in particular we have been very lucky in that they have been able to deliver surgery of high degrees of complexity with six theatres running at this site alone and, without that support, we would not have been able to provide really important clinical work through this challenging period.”

Capita - supporting the NHS in tackling covid19

Date of publication: 27th May 2020

Capita have supported the NHS in a number of different areas throughout the coronavirus pandemic including:

• Expanding the workforce: Onboarding and vetting, including standing up 200 staff in 24hrs, to process 20,000 nurse returners to the NHS; reinstating retired/returning GPs on to the Performer List, and supporting 91 Capita healthcare professionals applying to return to the NHS
Managing and co-ordinating: Scheduling, management services and technologies for staff and volunteers, including Workforce Management solutions to ISS at the Nightingale Hospital in London
Rapid technology enablement services including deploying a remote working solution for GP remote access to Clinical Systems in Birmingham for 150 surgeries to date, and the same solution to 200 London 111 users.
Provision of existing and new digital applications and technologies including updating and adding to the national clinical triage system Capita deliver for NHS Wales, mass SMS to vulnerable people in Scotland, and reminders re 7th and 14th Day isolation rule via NHS 111
FERA testing facilities supporting the National Testing Programme, working with PHE, DHSC and Defra/ APHA to provide equipment and lab staff

Capita also supported Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (CLCH) to organise the first Covid-19 testing drive-through, assisted with the rapid response to set up bedded areas (within 48 hrs), organised deep cleans across multiple sites, set up ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ sites to control contamination. Capita also rapidly opened and closed sites as needed over a weekend, and supported co-ordination and distribution of PPE equipment, as well as accelerating deployment of over 1000 devices, along with Teams on an NHS platform, and rolled out video conferencing.

CLCH CEO Andrew Ridley said: “This is truly a great effort from everyone and its made such a difference to us being able to progress our business of caring during extremely difficult times. I’m enormously grateful to all of you for everything you have done to make these things happen.”

Elizabeth Hale, Director of Improvement in CLCH added: “The partnership is playing a significant role in enabling us to respond to the current crisis” and the Trust IT Director offered particular praise for the work done by a key member of Capita’s IT team to support them.

18 Week Support and Medway NHS Trust

Date of publication: 27th May 2020

Medway NHS Foundation is a single-site hospital based in Gillingham, Medway Maritime Hospital, which serves a population of more than 424,000 across Medway and Swale. Demand for endoscopy services was challenged prior to COVID-19, with 814 patients waiting to be treated and during the COVID-19 outbreak the waiting was growing by 60+ patients per week. Medway NHSFT and 18 Week Support had an established working relationship prior to COVID-19 and following the pandemic a new and innovative partnership with 18 Week Support to provide the clinical staffing and Care UK to provide ‘clean’ endoscopy facilities in a separate location was created, allowing all to work closely together to address the rising backlog and minimise risk of cross infection by COVID-19. The partnership enabled each team to provide the different elements needed to build a successful system. From 15th April until 7th May, 38 Endoscopy sessions took place with 159 Patients Treated.

Paula Tinniswood, Medway NHS Foundation Trust “At the onset of Covid, Medway Foundation Trust was already working collaboratively with 18 Weeks Support and the Will Adams Treatment Centre (Care UK), to manage significant referrals for endoscopy. With the abrupt cessation of all but very urgent endoscopic diagnostics across the NHS, Medway Leadership decided to explore the feasibility of
continuing the existing partnership arrangements, which would support patient care at a cold site location. Robust clinical governance was developed by Dr Matt Banks and the Upper and Lower GI consultants at MFT. In the spirit of true partnership working, all Stakeholders were asked to sign and
authorise the pathway, which included Covid Swabbing, PPE usage and triage against criteria. Ultimately, this approach ensured that Medway patients, who were on 2ww Cancer pathways, continued to be seen in a safe manner.”

The McIndoe Centre & Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH)

Date of publication: 21st May 2020

The McIndoe Centre in East Grinstead has been working in close coordination with Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) to support the NHS through the Covid-19 crisis, allowing hundreds of patients from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex to receive vital cancer surgery at QVH.

The McIndoe Centre, which specialises in plastic, reconstructive, ophthalmic and maxillofacial surgery, has helped provide capacity for QVH to become the regional cancer hub for breast, skin and head and neck cancers.

An arrangement was made at the beginning of April for The McIndoe Centre, which is part of Horder Healthcare, to treat patients suffering from maxillofacial and plastics trauma. A phased approach was implemented to reach the full service, which to date has seen a total of 309 theatre admissions, 185 minor operations and 273 outpatient follow ups. The McIndoe Centre is also treating urgent eye conditions.

Surgeries have been performed in The McIndoe Centre’s theatres, with one theatre available 24 hours a day to ensure limb threatening injuries can be treated immediately. Minor operations have taken place in the treatment rooms on an outpatient basis. The medical and anaesthetic teams consist of QVH staff. Theatre, ward and outpatient teams are a combination of The McIndoe Centre and QVH staff working together.

Major case plastic surgery reconstructions have also taken place, some even involving surgery techniques pioneered by the Centre’s namesake, Sir Archibald McIndoe, the visionary plastic surgeon who treated injured servicemen in World War II.


Nuffield Health Plymouth & University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust

Date of publication: 1st May 2020

Nuffield Health’s Plymouth Hospital is currently hosting University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust oncology department and is treating NHS patients undergoing cancer treatment, freeing up capacity for the NHS Trust to care for people showing Covid-19 symptoms, and shields vulnerable cancer patients during the pandemic.

The Trust’s oncology department moved into the Nuffield Health’s Plymouth Hospital on Monday 6th April after an intensive, fast-paced relocation project. This saw Nuffield Health’s Hospital set-up with the essential medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, IT network capabilities and clinical governance collaboration implemented to run the NHS oncology department safely and effectively for cancer patients. Before the move took place, Nuffield Health’s staff, both clinical and non-clinical, received essential oncology training within a week to ensure all staff were upskilled appropriately.  The training was successfully achieved through a unique collaboration between Nuffield Health, UHP, Mustard Tree Macmillan Centre and St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth.

Sian Dennison, Head of Nursing Cancer and End of Life, and Sarah Flavell, Cluster Manager Oncology and Haematology, from University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, said: “In this current pandemic and a time of great challenge, anxiety and stress to patients and staff, it’s with great pride we have watched teams of staff come together and united continue to deliver the best care and service to our patients. We have watched them smile, laugh and work incredibly hard to set this service up quickly and efficiently. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen from transport teams, porters, cleaners, to clinical and non-clinical teams across all providers.”

Patricia Warwick, Hospital Director at Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital, says: “The situation we are experiencing right now in healthcare worldwide is extraordinary, these are untrodden paths and it’s fantastic the independent sector and the NHS can come together in the interest of public health.  We are doing all we can to support Derriford Hospital, from sharing our employees and a large section of our hospital to ensure that the oncology services can continue to be run in a safe and effective environment, whilst ensuring that Derriford Hospital frees up capacity and is best prepared to care for and treat COVID-19 patients.

“The oncology training that all my staff received was first class and I thank all parties involved for moving so quickly. Our theatres are now set up for chemotherapy patients, our ward is taking in oncology inpatients, we have set up an oncology outpatients department, ensured that a CT scanner in onsite, adapted our pharmacy, phlebotomy service and all our administrative and reception services to ensure they are best equipped to support the NHS.”



BMI The Park Hospital and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Date of publication: 18th May 2020

BMI The Park Hospital transformed into a specialist cancer centre over the course of a weekend and has now treated around half of Nottingham’s total of 700 cancer patients who needed surgery during the Covid-19 pandemic, working as an extension of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

BMI The Park Hospital has adapted its high-dependency unit (HDU) capacity in order to provide a full support to the NHS, transforming a recovery suite to an expanded HDU and thus increasing beds from an original five to 12 in order to accommodate patients with the most complex needs in Nottingham. Up to 20 operations have been completed every day, including operations for people with breast cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, throat cancer, thyroid cancer and bowel cancer.

The increased HDU capacity at The Park has enabled NUH to allocate its own HDU capacity to treating Covid-19 patients, also leading to a geographical separation to shield cancer patients from Covid patients.

Cancer lead for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust Mr James Catton said: “We need HDU beds in order to provide surgery for the most complex cases. We already had HDU expertise, but the limiting factor was the number of HDU beds. Over the course of a weekend – on Friday it was a recovery ward and on Monday it was an HDU – BMI The Park was turned into a cancer hospital. That foresight, the willingness to change, the established HDU expertise and the supplement of junior staff, anaesthetic cover and NHS staff working alongside Park teams has allowed us to transform BMI The Park into arguably the largest HDU outside London, enabling us to work on the most complex cases.”

Transform Hospital Group & NHS Worcester Health and Care Trust

Date of publication: 18th May 2020

The Transform Group’s Dolan Park Hospital has been proud to partner with the NHS in response to the coronavirus pandemic and has completely repurposed its services to help and support the NHS during this time. Dolan Park hospital has provided their ventilator capacity, in excess of their own current requirements, to the NHS for use in the Midlands and North West regions to support management of the infection peak. They have also partnered with NHS Worcester Health and Care Trust (WHCT) to take patients from their acute service who would ordinarily have been transferred to a community hospital once medically fit for discharge from the acute setting.

Together with NHS colleagues, Dolan Park worked to re-purpose the hospital in a matter of days to enable the facility to be ready, ensuring that pressure relief mattresses, mobility aids and aids to assist with daily living activities were available to enable patient comfort and safe rehabilitation. In just two weeks Dolan Park’s nursing and ancillary support team accessed essential training using key resources including e-learning for health, as well as engaging with training offered to us by our WHCT colleagues and experts, including modules on infection prevention and control, use of PPE and care of frail, elderly and end of life care patients.

Dolan Park has been able to offer patients nursing care and accommodation in single rooms, supporting social/physical distancing guidelines at all times. The whole team has adopted a collaborative approach to adapt to new working processes, with a focus on fast-paced consolidation of learning and cultural change displayed throughout the workforce.