Supporting the NHS during COVID-19

At the start of the pandemic, NHS hospitals were under unprecedented pressure to treat COVID-19 patients creating delays to standard procedures. Cancer patients, who are highly vulnerable to the virus, also faced having time-critical treatment postponed.

We’re very proud to have supported and partnered with the NHS to deliver rapid, complex treatment and care to these patients during the pandemic.

Throughout our partnership with the NHS we’ve performed over 700 surgeries, of which 647 were time-critical cancer surgeries. We have also provided outpatient services to nearly 200 patients as well as medical step down, delivering over 2,500 nights of care for NHS patients through the Royal Marsden Cancer Hub and for local NHS Trusts.

We’ve worked very closely with many local Trusts and their teams over the last few months – building strong relationships that we know will last. We were delighted to be selected by NHS England as one of four centres to provide specialist cancer treatment as part of the Royal Marden Cancer Hub, delivering complex treatment across breast, colorectal, endocrine, thoracic, head and neck and urological cancers. Between March and July 2020, more than 20% of Royal Marsden Cancer Hub patients were treated at the Cromwell.

We’re thrilled at the excellent outcomes achieved for patients throughout the pandemic. For example, 30 day survival rates for colorectal surgery patients were five times better than the national average, sitting at 0.6% (in comparison to a national average of 2-3%).

Our focus on achieving optimal patient outcomes by maximising patient safety is further reflected in the fact that from April – present day (August), there has been no evidence of any post-surgical COVID-19 infections to any of our patients admitted during that period.

Everyone at the Cromwell went above and beyond to support both NHS and privately funded patients to make sure they received a high standard of care when they needed it the most.

Some of the highlights from our joint response with the NHS include:

  • Opening our new 10 bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ahead of schedule so we could treat NHS and private patients needing complex care
  • Repurposing our former ICU facility into a 7 bed High Dependency Unit to relieve capacity constraints in several NHS trusts and provide care for NHS patients needing medical step-down treatment
  • Redeployment of nursing staff to the NHS Nightingale Hospital
  • Development of a Covid-19 Handbook by clinical teams which was shared with other London hospitals, at their request
  • Launched remote multidisciplinary team meetings and consultation communication via Sillo, enabling consultants to continue multidisciplinary meetings to discuss patient care
  • Joint creation of pan-London guidance around PPE in collaboration with Royal Marsden.
  • Welcoming over 250 NHS staff to the Cromwell to provide care and support to NHS patients undergoing complex treatment
  • Sharing vital equipment and PPE with local NHS Trusts including ventilators, anesthesia units and hoods
  • Introducing a virtual consultation platform to enable patients to speak with consultants from the comfort of their home
  • Rapidly applying safety measures including temperature checks and thermographic cameras at reception, patient screening, on-site testing for staff and rigorous enhanced cleaning processes

It has been incredible to see such collaboration across NHS and independent organisations in order to ensure that during the biggest crisis the NHS has ever faced, patients who need urgent cancer surgery can access it. Over a thousand patients from London and further afield have been able to have surgery so far thanks to our Cancer Hub alone, with many more benefitting from the models we helped set up across London and around the country. By having an overview of ICU bed capacity and surgical expertise, we can match each patient to the right team in the right location, whether at The Royal Marsden or at the Bupa Cromwell. We look forward to working with the Bupa Cromwell as we all move through recovery, and planning for peaks in demand on the other side of the pandemic.

Medical Director at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Nicholas van As

Looking forward

Whilst the national contract between the NHS and the independent sector is moving to a regional approach, we remain committed to playing our part in the response to COVID-19 and will continue to partner with local NHS hospitals and support them with the additional capacity they may require.

In the meantime, we’re pleased to be able to provide increased capacity in diagnostics, outpatient and inpatient care for our private patients, with important safety measures in place to enable us to deliver this care safely and efficiently.