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Coronavirus update

The government’s latest figures on coronavirus sadly revealed a rise in the number of deaths, including a spike clustered in three Black Country trusts — The Royal Wolverhampton Trust, The Dudley Group Foundation Trust, and Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust.

Royal Wolverhampton now has the most deaths of any trust in the country, with nine so far. Dudley Group’s seven deaths, meanwhile, means it ranks third. 

The reasons behind this are so far unclear. The deaths have all been of at risk or elderly patients and there could be multiple factors at play — the make-up of the region’s population, for example.  

Although it was not totally clear how it links into the number of deaths, multiple sources have told HSJ the region’s pathology services are under significant strain due to the surge in covid-19 tests. Delays in getting test results may be putting the trusts’ bed base under pressure, leaving them with little option than to isolate all those admitted who show symptoms until a diagnosis is confirmed. 

Meanwhile, central government has said it has plenty of face masks and other protective equipment in its pandemic stockpile. But, so far, not all those supplies have been getting where they’re needed.

Some trust procurement leads told HSJ the allocations they’re receiving are barely enough to scrape by, while others are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds supplementing central deliveries.

Trade body the Health Care Supply Association tweeted the last week had been “the most challenging ever” for its members.

And, as the coronavirus pandemic takes hold of the NHS, some of the rules healthcare professionals must usually follow are being relaxed. 

Under usual circumstances, all licensed doctors who practice medicine must renew their licence every five years. 

Given the current situation, the General Medical Council has told roughly 36,000 doctors who were due to revalidate their licence between now and the end of September to do so next year.

GMC chief Charlie Massey said: “We hope this will help ease the burden on doctors already working so hard to deliver the best possible care.”