Before we talk about how things are changing, we have The Horder Centre in Crowborough, The McIndoe Centre in East Grinstead. Both are part of Horder Healthcare and you are the Chief Executive.
Our locations & specialities
Just to remind our listeners could you just give a brief overview of what those hospitals currently provide?
The Horder Centre in Crowborough is an Orthopaedic Centre. We're known as one of the largest single-site providers for hip and knee replacements in the country and we obviously treat all aspects of orthopaedics - which is everywhere from your foot and ankle all the way up to your shoulder, and we've been doing that for a long time now. We have an “Outstanding” rating with the CQC, very highly regarded by our partners in the NHS and about 80 per cent of what we do here at Crowborough is NHS based work.
We provide a large amount of community physiotherapy throughout East Sussex and we provide that at Crowborough as well.
At The McIndoe Centre, in East Grinstead, we are providing plastic surgery, maxillofacial surgery - which is surgery of the jaw, a large amount of ophthalmology - which is surgery for the eyes, as well as some orthopaedic work, again supporting the NHS with their work in Crawley and in West Sussex.
We have a good range of services across both sites working very closely with the NHS already in a lot of areas, particularly around hip and knee surgery.
NHS deal with private and independent hospitals
There was a big announcement at the weekend and that is that the NHS has struck a deal with private and independent hospitals to acquire thousands of extra beds, ventilators, and medical staff to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
What is the deal and how is this going to affect Horder Healthcare?
The independent sector has been working closely along the side the NHS for the last few weeks, we've been talking about how we can best help the NHS, as you say, it's unprecedented times.
So essentially, the way that the deal is going to work is that the NHS is going to utilise almost all of the independent sector capacity across the country which is in the region of 8,000 beds, plus the operating theatres, ventilators and so on and so forth. So that we can provide additional capacity to support the NHS during this period.
We will be funded by the NHS to provide that. It's very important to say that the independent sector will not be making profits from this. We will be funded for the costs that we will incur during this period and it's very much about us working in partnership to make sure that the NHS can cope with the really high quantity of COVID-19 patients that we are expecting to emerge over the next few weeks and months.
I think from Horder Healthcare's perspective we've always worked very closely with the NHS. We think it's really important to work with the NHS at this time and it reflects our ongoing commitment to work with the NHS and working partnerships. It's going to be a challenge to put things in place very quickly but we're all committed to doing it and we're all committed to doing what we need to do to support people through what is a very challenging time for everyone at the moment.
So from now, the usual route for patients has completely changed and your patients will be coming to you from a different source. Is this correct?
That's right. So the details are still to be worked out, but at the moment we do what is called 'planned surgery', which means that if you have a hip or a knee replacement, that surgery is planned sometime in advance. As a patient, you know when you're going to arrive, everything follows a clear pathway.
It's likely that, in order to support the NHS, in Crowborough, we will be working very closely with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and it looks like we will be taking more trauma-based patients, probably orthopaedic trauma. What that means is we'll be treating people who have say broken their hip when they have fallen in the street or fallen in their house and they will be brought here from the main hospitals in Pembury (Tunbridge Wells), most likely, in and we will then treat the patients here. Manage the trauma, repair the fracture and then help with their rehab moving forward.
What about The McIndoe Centre?
So at The Mcindoe Centre, again, it’s still very early stages. We're in discussions with both Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells and the Queen Victoria Hospital, in East Grinstead - which is on the same site as McIndoe.
Not entirely sure yet what we'll be doing - very very early days, bearing in mind this announcement was only made at the weekend but I expect over the next week we'll become clearer about what we're doing to support the NHS and I think the broad principle of and what's so important about this agreement is it's effectively saying we're making our facilities available as long as we can provide the services that you need safely, we're very happy to do whatever it is you need us to do at the moment. Now that may well change over the next few weeks and months because obviously we don't know exactly how this is going to pan out in the longer term but we're essentially saying “look we're here to help, we will do what we can do”. I can't stress enough it's what we can do safely, so obviously you know we the facilities we have here have to be used responsibly and all of that's being discussed with the NHS at the moment so I'm confident that by the end of the week we'll be very clear about what Horder Healthcare is doing to support the NHS during this time of crisis.
You mentioned Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, do you know at this point if we'll be taking patients from other areas East Sussex, Wealden areas? Do we have any information on that?
We don't have any information as yet. The process is being coordinated by the NHS and tends to be coordinated by the NHS trusts. So in terms of geographical distance, we are closest to Maidstone and Tunbridge wells and obviously Queen Vic and the conversations so far have been with those organisations.
Obviously, as I've said, we're very open to support the NHS for whatever it needs so you know we may well be having conversations with other organisations such as East Sussex in due course. But at the moment the conversations have focused around essentially around West Kent and the East Grinstead area.
I guess at this point nobody really knows where we're headed, it's uncharted territory. Are you ready?
I think as far as you can be, we're ready. I think we will be doing things that we do not normally do but we have highly qualified staff, we have some excellent surgeons who are very experienced in all aspects of orthopaedic care - whether it's planned care or trauma. And we will do what we need to do in order to support the NHS. Our back-office staff, our admin staff, catering staff, our portering staff all remain committed to what we're doing. We've been briefing staff over the last week as things have emerged and I think it's fair to say that there is a considerable level of commitment to make this work.
We wouldn't be human if we weren't concerned. I think on a personal level we're all slightly concerned about ourselves and our loved ones and how quickly is this going to spread and what does that mean… and that's perfectly understandable. We are reassuring people as best we can whilst supporting them but yes, we are as ready as we can be and I've no doubt over the next couple of weeks we will get ourselves where we need to be in order to support people going forwards.
Supporting Horder Healthcare
It's a team effort, isn't it? So how can the community help? People outside this hospital, I'm sure people will want to help how can they help you?
So the obvious things are to support our staff and that means supporting them when it's making the shops available earlier in the mornings for staff, making sure that they can access the food that they're going to need, treating them with respect when you see them it's really important for us.
I think on a practical level for us at Horder, we are contacting our patients at the moment because clearly we've had to cancel a lot of planned patients and that's been difficult. it's difficult for them, we hate doing it because they do clearly want their treatment.
As Lynn has said, we're on unchartered territory here, we've had to move very very quickly over the last week to move lots of things around. Undoubtedly cancel patients which has been difficult both for the patients and for the staff and I would say, on that note, that if we are phoning you - we know it's difficult, we know it's not what you want to hear but please just remember that the staff are doing their job and they will do it with respect and if you can just treat them with respect and courtesy that goes an awful long way at the moment because everybody is doing things at speed and it would it's just good to know that they are supported in that.