It has been extremely impressive to see how Brentwood Community Hospital has developed and grown during the course of the pandemic.
I met some of the people behind those changes – Brid Johnson and Stephanie Daw from NELFT and the Mid and South Essex Hospitals Trust teams – earlier in the year via Zoom for a catch up, and last week I finally managed to meet them in person at the hospital.
BCH is, as you would expect, a hive of activity. It opened up 150 beds for COVID patients by dint of dogged team work and an immense amount of help from volunteers including Brentwood residents, off duty fire crews and NHS staff. As a result it has managed to take some of the pressure off Basildon Hospital which is also seeing a spike in coronavirus cases at the moment. BCH is currently looking after more than 30 patients with severe cases of COVID-19 who have been moved from high needs beds in that area and is giving them rehabilitation and recuperation in Brentwood.
Brid and Stephanie spoke about how they were seeing the “NHS family” of staff from multiple trusts coming together to improve healthcare across the regions. They also talked me through how, when coronavirus infections abated slightly over the summer, plans were made for a “Frailty Pathway” at the hospital which will see, for the first time, elderly patients being brought by ambulance to the Community Hospital for treatments and check-ups. It’s hoped this pathway will enable older people to get home more quickly where it’s known they have better outcomes than becoming institutionalised in an acute hospital for too long.
There was a time when local people complained – with justification – that Brentwood Community Hospital was underused. Consequently, it is great to see its potential being realised to make healthcare better and more convenient for local residents. My congratulations to all involved in making this happen, and I look forward to seeing more of this good work in 2021.