England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said the peak of the outbreak is most likely still 10 to 14 weeks away, and efforts are underway to ensure the NHS can cope with the intense pressures that it is facing.
In an internal email sent by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust which has been seen by The Yorkshire Post, it was confirmed that a community swabbing service is being instigated to avoid patients having unnecessary visits to hospital.
The email, sent on behalf of chief executive Martin Barkley, said increased measures were to be taken due to the unprecedented situation the trust now finds itself in.
“We are in a new situation,” Mr Barkley said.
“It is highly likely we will see a significant increase in cases within our region over the coming days - we will be treating coronavirus patients in the hospital, our community-based teams will be supporting our patients in the community, and it may well be the case that some of staff contract the virus.”
“I recognise this is an anxious time for everyone,” Mr Barkley added.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust covers three main hospitals, Pinderfields in Wakefield, Dewsbury and District and Pontefract, and Mr Barkley confirmed patients who are medically fit will be discharged in the coming days to prevent so-called bed blocking.
It was also confirmed to The Yorkshire Post that an isolation ward is being created at Scarborough Hospital to cope with the outbreak. Patients deemed to be well enough were discharged from the Lilac Ward last week to create space for the measures.
The York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which covers the Scarborough hospital, said the measures will help minimise the “risk to patients and staff”, help prevent the spread of the virus and ensure care can be “appropriately managed”.
A spokesperson for NHS, said: "As the Chief Medical Officer has warned, NHS services will come under pressure as the outbreak spreads more widely and so it is only right we are preparing a number of practical solutions to respond.
"Last week, guidance was sent out across the NHS to help local services to prepare so patients can get the care they need which remains the priority for hardworking staff and advice will continue to be updated.”