News & Media

Making space in a crisis


The popular TV documentary Hospital is back, and the first episode shows the impact that COVID-19 has had on the NHS. We’ve all read countless stories and heard regular updates in government’s briefings this year, but there’s something about watching the human stories of the patients and staff within one of the busiest hospitals in London that really hits home.

“Last time was easier as we stopped everything and just focused on our COVID patients, this time we want to keep going as much as we can as we’re learning to live with this.” – Rachel Anticoni, Director of Operations at the Royal Free hospital.

The documentary, filmed from August, looks at the second wave of the pandemic, the preparation and how elective operations were just starting again as the second wave began to show its hand. During the first wave, NHS England put into place requirements to free up beds across the UK.

NHS England asked all non-urgent elective operations to be delayed, freeing up 12,000-15,000 hospital beds across the UK. Patients were medically discharged wherever possible,  with social workers charged with ensuring social or out-of-hospital care were immediately provided with it.

Space was also block booked within private hospitals/community hospitals and intermediate care beds for flexible use were made available – adding another 10,000 beds.

It’s against this backdrop that our new community hospital building in Stourside opened its doors to patients. The new centre, which completed in September, is a state-of-the-art, day surgery hospital building with an operating theatre, seven consulting rooms, six-day case bays and a physiotherapy suite, and is a recognised ‘green site’. It provides additional capacity within the local healthcare system, supporting the strong partnership between West Midlands Hospital, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and the primary care network in Stourbridge. Our investment forms part of the work to help build additional space and capacity – and it’s great to see how every part of every local health system playing its part in helping with the second wave of the virus.