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Coronavirus update

Last week, it became apparent there were no plans — or at least no immediate plans — for a Nightingale hospital in the south east. This week, it transpired the plan was to treat a number of patients from Kent and Sussex in London’s Nightingale in the repurposed Excel Centre

But there is a sting in the tail for trusts who want to transfer patients there. They will be asked to provide staffing: for every eight patients transferred, trusts will be asked to provide a nurse and support worker.

As staff absences rise among the region’s trusts — as many as one in five are off sick or self-isolating — that could be easier said than done. Transferring patients could also prove a drain on the region’s ambulance services (although it may be offered help from fire fighters and the army, as is beginning to happen around the country).

Meanwhile, some maternity inspections have been suspended in a bid to help trusts focus on covid-19 pressures.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has announced it will pause routine investigations into maternity incidents involving babies treated for oxygen deprivation at birth, but with no apparent brain injuries.

But trusts have been told it’s still “business as usual” for reporting serious maternity cases to HSIB.

It comes after the Care Quality Commission said it would suspend all its routine inspections, although it later said it could “remotely” monitor troubled trusts.