'It's not over': Hospital chief executive's message as Covid rules are relaxed

A hospital chief executive has urged caution as Covid rules are relaxed.

Raj Jain (pictured), who leads the NHS group which runs four hospitals and other community healthcare services in Salford, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale, revealed that there has been a reduction in patients in intensive care.

It comes as the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) has vaccinated more than 155,000 people in Greater Manchester, including at the Etihad campus.

Speaking at a board meeting on Monday (March 29), Mr Jain shared the good news but emphasised the ‘critical’ importance of preventing further infection.

He said: “Whilst we feel less pressurised as a result of the pandemic in terms of those patients, it’s not over. This is going to be with us for two or three years and we will systemise and standardise the way of working that Covid and the pandemic has brought to us into our normal ways of working.”

The number of Covid-19 outbreaks within the sites which the NCA runs has decreased, which means fewer patients are catching the virus in hospital.

However, there are still nine ‘active’ outbreaks across the four boroughs, including one at Oldham hospital which led to a ward temporarily closing.

At Salford Royal – the only hospital without any recent outbreaks – there has been an increase in activity at the Accident and Emergency department.

NCA bosses are also anticipating a rise in the number of children attending.

Catching up on cancer treatments remains a challenge for the NHS group, but extra capacity has now been created at the Christie hospital in Manchester.

Chief of people Nicky Clarke said the NCA has now vaccinated more than 155,000 people at the mass vaccination centre it is running in the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre at the Etihad campus and at its four hospital hubs.

She confirmed that second dose appointments will not be affected by issues with supply in April, but there will be ‘marginally less’ first doses available.

Members of the board also paid tribute to the ‘tremendous role’ volunteers have played in running Manchester’s mass vaccination centre at the Etihad.

But Ms Clarke revealed that discussions are taking place about its future.

She said: “There is work underway to look at what our future set up will be. Clearly, the vaccination centre can’t stay at the Etihad tennis courts because they’ll be wanting to play tennis on them at some point, I’m sure.

“So there’s a Greater Manchester decision on whether they need ongoing to have a vaccination centre in the manner that we’ve set it up at the Etihad.”

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