Mid Yorkshire Hospitals 'not overwhelmed' by COVID-19, but public asked to help keep it that way
"We're not overwhelmed and you can help us keep that way."
That's the message to the public from the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, whose hard-working staff are battling through the coronavirus pandemic.
The trust, which runs Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, as well as Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospitals has had to ban visitors and temporarily axe non-emergency surgery and outpatient services to cope with the outbreak.
Some local patients suffering from the virus and who need extra treatment are being cared for at Pinderfields, though NHS advice for those who think they have COVID-19 is to stay at home unless they need medical help.
Speaking on Friday, the trust's chief executive Martin Barkley, insisted local hospitals were currently coping with the extra demand, dismissing rumours on social media suggesting otherwise.
But with NHS services at the mercy of an expected steep rise in cases in the near future, he appealed to the public to do their bit and stay at home, which will help minimise the impact on the health service.
Mr Barkley said: "We are very conscious of fake news that says the trust is being overwhelmed. It's simply not true.
"It is very hard to predict when cases will rise to the highest level. I think in Yorkshire we're a couple of weeks behind London but I don't know when exactly the peak will arrive.
"The message for people is to comply with the national guidance and stay indoors. That's the best thing they can do."
The trust is in the process of trying to expand its capacity for ventilators, in a bid to meet the expected spike in cases.
Mr Barkley also revealed that supplies of masks and protective gear for staff had fallen to "concerningly low" levels at the end of last week, before the government stepped up the speed of deliveries. Such supplies are now in healthy stock.
Chemotherapy services as well as elderly patients being treated for conditions other than COVID-19 have been diverted away from Pinderfields for the meantime to minimise the risk of infection.
The Accident & Emergency and maternity units remain open as normal, with staff observing social distancing protocols as best they can.
Mr Barkley said: "Every service has had to adapt to the new arrangements.
"We'd never like to cancel routine surgery, but we have no choice in this case.
"It has helped free up doctors and nurses and capacity to help us deal with coronavirus."
The trust chief also placed on record his thanks to all of the trust's "inspiring" 8,000 staff for their efforts during the pandemic and to the public, who he said had been kind and supportive.
Local Democracy Reporting Service