Mobile facility enables hospital to continue with vital medical procedures

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust retains Vanguard ward and theatre complex as COVID-19 ‘cold site’

The vanguard unit is acting as a 'cold site', enabling important procedures to continue without risk during the COVID-19 pandemic

A mobile medical facility being used by The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust for oral, ENT and urology procedures will remain on site as a COVID-19 ‘cold unit’, enabling medical care to continue despite current restrictions.

The Vanguard mobile ward and theatre at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford was installed in December to add additional theatre capacity to the hospital.

But, while the pace slowed as a result of COVID-19, the unit has been successfully operating as a ‘cold’ site for the trust, allowing key procedures to continue.

Neil Rogers, assistant chief operating officer at the trust, explains: “Before COVID-19 we were using the unit for oral surgery, an area where we had some patients who had been waiting for a very long time for procedures such as wisdom teeth extractions and other treatments that couldn’t be done in a family dental practice.

The unit is ideal as it has its own staff team, and we have a dedicated team of our own surgeons and anaesthetists who only work on the Vanguard unit

“That was about 50% of the work and the other half was ENT and urology.

“We could also treat children on the unit as it was segregated from the rest of the hospital.

“The procedures carried out there were very focused on those with long waiting lists and to give us extra capacity.

“But, During COVID-19, we didn’t want to let it go – and although the unit was due to go back at Easter we have extended the contract so we can use it as a ‘cold’ site through to the beginning of next year.”

He added: “The unit is ideal as it has its own staff team, and we have a dedicated team of our own surgeons and anaesthetists who only work on the Vanguard unit. The unit also has its own recovery area and anaesthetic room.

Having the unit separate to the hospital is key for patient safety and the patients have been very happy to attend because of that separation and the ringfenced group of staff

“So we continue to use it as a ‘cold’ site taking appropriate additional precautions.

“All patients are temperature checked before they come onto the unit and should have self isolated for an appropriate period before their procedure to further reduce risk.

“We’ve treated around 150 patients since the beginning of COVID-19 and the focus really is on safety for everyone.

“This is a safe environment to continue with the skin cancer work and we are looking to add non-urgent cancer work too.

“Having the unit separate to the hospital is key for patient safety and the patients have been very happy to attend because of that separation and the ringfenced group of staff.”

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