• Solihull Hospital to be transformed for use from 1 June
  • Decision will temporarily remove a number of units including minor injuries

A large West Midlands trust has announced it will open “a covid-free” elective hospital as the NHS begins to reintroduce care back into its hospitals.

University Hospitals Birmingham said that while covid-19 still posed a significant risk to staff, it plans to use its Solihull Hospital site for mainstream elective inpatient activity from 1 June.

The trust announced at the start of last month that it was suspending a “high proportion” of non-urgent cancer surgery and all non-urgent surgery.

While the trust has seen its covid admissions and inpatient numbers plateau over the last 10 days it still had 150 per cent capacity in ITU. The trust has so far recorded 758 covid-19 deaths, the highest number in England.

The trust has said the decision to create a covid-free site would mean the temporary removal of the minor injuries unit, acute medical unit and six medical inpatient wards.

It said its clinical commissioning group was trying to find a replacement for its minor injuries unit, working with GP providers.

From 8 May all its acute medical patients will move from the east Birmingham/Solihull region to the Heartlands hospitals near Small Heath. Staff would be given the option to remain working at Solihull or another UHB hospital during the changes.

Covid cases would continue to be managed at Heartlands, Good Hope and the Queen Elizabeth hospitals. 

It said it would keep potential use of its Good Hope Hospital for elective care under close review.

A trust spokesman added: “Whilst it seems that this will require some significant change to how the system currently operates, and won’t be without it challenges, it may present the local NHS with the opportunity to redesign local services, to meet the needs of patients better.

“In partnership with the CCG, UHB has prepared plans to communicate and engage with the public and all relevant stakeholders, at appropriate times. This is in line with NHS England and NHS Improvement’s emergency service change protocol.

Hospital bosses have warned that reintroducing care should be done cautiously and that a drive to restart elective procedures would be hampered by a lack of rapid testing and tracking of covid-19 positive patients.