To mark the anniversary of the first confirmed COVID patients being treated by the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens today paid tribute to NHS staff for their “extraordinary work in a year like no other”.
He met the team who cared for the country’s first two confirmed COVID patients, who were admitted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary on January 31 last year.
Since then, hospitals have treated more than 320,000 patients with COVID, with around one person with the virus admitted to critical care every thirty minutes.
NHS staff have had to transform hospitals and how they work to ensure that all those who could benefit from critical care received it, increasing critical care ‘surge capacity’ by around a half. A fantastic example of this is the new hybrid ward at the RVI which was transformed in just 12 weeks, specially developed to provide both intensive care and step-down care for COVID positive patients. This approach ensure that non-COVID emergency and elective work is able continue.Read more – New hybrid intensive care ward in COVID-19 response
Speaking ahead of the visit to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, to meet the team who cared for the first patients, NHS England chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens said:
“On behalf of families and patients across the country, we thank staff across the NHS for their extraordinary work in a year like no other. The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest public health emergency in NHS history, but in the past 12 months the NHS has achieved things many would have thought impossible – from quarantine centres and Nightingale hospitals in a matter of days after the pandemic was declared, to expanding hospitals’ critical care capacity by 50%, developing new Covid treatments and services, and delivering the first vaccination outside of a clinical trial.
“It is the vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history, combined with the prospect of new therapies and treatments that offer us hope for the future.
“Our brilliant NHS staff have been on the frontline of the intense and relentless battle against coronavirus, but no health service could cope with the virus alone. They are part of this country’s greatest peacetime mobilisation, so we also thank other key workers, particularly in the care sector, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, tens of thousands of staff who returned, the student nurses and medical students who stepped up and our colleagues in the armed services.
“We are also hugely grateful to all those who have played their part in cutting infections and slowing the spread of the virus, which has undoubtedly saved many lives.”
Level four incident
NHS England and NHS Improvement declared a level four incident, the highest state of alert, a year ago on January 30 over the new disease that was infecting people in Wuhan, China.
The following day, two patients, a university student and their relative, were taken from York to Newcastle where they were cared for on the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s specialist High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) unit.
Speaking ahead of Sir Simon’s visit, consultant Dr Matt Schmid, who led the team that treated them, said: “Looking back a year on, it is incredible to think that my team treated what would be the first of many tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients across the country.
Although an unknown disease at the time, we were prepared to care for those first patients and experienced the beginning of huge changes to the way the whole health service delivers care and the way we worked.Dr Matthias Schmid, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at the Royal Victoria Infirmary
Dr Schmid continued “I am very proud of the standard of care we delivered to those first patients in January 2020 and of how we have maintained that standard under ever increasing pressure.
“Now, as then, we have met each COVID-19 patient with care and compassion in their darkest moments and as we have developed our knowledge of the virus, we have swiftly adapted to deliver the highest possible level of care.
“I want to thank my team and all of those helping to fight the virus across the country for the lengths they have gone to ever since we treated those first patients 12 months ago”.NHS England Website – Simon Stevens thanks NHS staff after a year like no other BBC – NHS chief thanks NHS on anniversary of first cases Chronicle – Newcastle medic who treated first COVID-19 reflects one year on Tyne Tees – COVID-19: A year on the frontline Chronicle – RVI staff tell us how they have been helping to care for Covid patients