During the height of the pandemic, King’s Health Partners supported our partners’ rapid response to the pandemic to ensure patients with COVID-19 receive the best possible care and that services for the wider community continue to be delivered.
Staff were redeployed and innovative new services and ways of delivering patient care created; many of which have enabled rapid improvements that we continue to learn from and embed to have a lasting impact on patient care across south east London.
Keeping patients and families connected
In March 2020, Life Lines was launched with the support of King’s Health Partners. The project provides families with a way to connect with loved ones being treated in intensive care while hospital sites were inaccessible. By delivering tablet devices with safe and secure software to NHS organisations across the UK, Life Lines has enabled more than 130,000 virtual visits across more than 180 hospital sites and continues to provide support.
Find out more about Life Lines future plans for using its innovative service to support other intensive care patients and patient recovery here.
During the peaks of the pandemic, both academic and specialist clinical staff across our partnership were redeployed to reduce strain, where possible, and provide expert care to support staff working in intensive care. In addition:
- Staff were redeployed to the NHS Nightingale Hospital London, the first of the temporary hospitals set up by NHS England in response to the pandemic.
- Non-clinical staff were redeployed to support the surge in COVID-19 referrals.
- Our Institute programme teams supported and drove tactical planning in local organisations.
- Some staff returned from retirement to previous roles for a time, for example at Evelina London Children’s Hospital a number of retired pediatric intensive care unit nurses returned to their roles.
Providing care virtually
Many teams across the partnership offered services remotely to keep staff, patients and the local community safe.
During the pandemic, we have accelerated the launch of several innovative virtual projects to support patients. Examples include:
- e-IMPARTS has been rolled out across King’s College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trusts. This is a remote offering of our IMPARTS screening programme in which patients complete a questionnaire on their mental health, before attending an outpatient clinic for their physical health needs. By allowing remote access to these questionnaires, patients who are being treated for physical health conditions can continue to receive holistic mind and body care. The patient’s healthcare professional is still able to review and discuss information about a patient’s mental health during their virtual consultation.
- A virtual physical health clinic has been piloted at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The clinic provides weekly access to a consultant (general physician and neurogeriatrician) and an advanced clinical practitioner from King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Referrers can request an extended virtual appointment which they can invite their patient to attend, or request advice and guidance via telephone or email consultation. Since June 2020, appointments have been available to inpatient wards at the Maudsley Hospital to support non-acute, long-term condition management and non-COVID-19 medical issues. The service is being expanded to inpatient services in other South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust directorates.
Finding innovative solutions for providing patient care
King’s Health Partners has implemented innovative new solutions to improve pathways of care throughout the pandemic. Examples include:
- Piloting Chemo@home, which provides patients who, under regular drug regimens would have had to come into hospital regularly for monitoring, with alternative care options.
- Exploring new ways to deliver treatment to patients, including couriered medicines accompanied by virtual support, as well as blood samples being taken in the community rather than in the hospital.
- The introduction of Consultant Connect, which provides clinician-to-clinician physical health advice and guidance to mental health inpatient clinicians via an app on a phone or tablet, or over the phone. This service brings together clinicians in more than 80 specialties to provide support on, but not limited to, caring for COVID-19 patients. This service helps avoid unnecessary referrals to physical health settings and the moving of patients.
Supporting long-term needs of patients with Long-COVID
Clinical teams across the partnership are also looking at how best to support the longer-term needs of patients who are recovering from COVID-19, for example those who have cognitive problems such as memory impairment.
e-IMPARTS, which enables patients to complete a questionnaire on their mental health before attending an outpatient clinic for their physical health needs, is also being used in a number of Long COVID clinics. This ensures patients who are being treated for physical health conditions receive holistic mind and body care.
Sharing knowledge to improve patient care
In addition to relevant education and training resources, we have created forums to share knowledge on how to manage patients with COVID-19 locally, nationally and globally, such as our online series, Meet the Expert. The series provided vital insight to academics, staff and students as they sought to understand the novel virus at its outbreak.
Since its launch in April 2020, the series has broadened its remit to include more key topics from the world of medical academia alongside COVID-19. The series is now officially hosted in collaboration with the European University Hospital Alliance.
View our latest news to find out more about the King's Health Partners response to COVID-19.