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A message from Jim Easton, Chief Executive of Care UK Healthcare

March 26 2020

I hope you are keeping well through this unprecedented and uncertain time in which we find ourselves. As the whole country works to combat the COVID-19 crisis, I want to assure you that Care UK is here to support the national response in whatever way it can.

Our staff in 111 and GP out of hours have been on the front line of the situation for some weeks, and that continues, with really high volumes of people ranging from the concerned to the potentially unwell. We know it is taking much longer to answer calls to 111, but we also know that both the telephone and online support the service can give is a critical part of how all of us can get the information and advice we need.

In our prison healthcare sites, we have robust and well-established infection control strategies based on Public Health England advice, which is being continually updated. In addition, we have contingency plans - created in partnership with the prison service and Public Health England - to ensure we can continue to deliver healthcare services. Colleagues are supporting prisons by reiterating and supporting public health messages to prisoners around basic hygiene including the importance of handwashing, the use and binning of tissues and coughing and sneezing into the crook of the arm or sleeve.

Along with all independent sector healthcare providers, Care UK hospitals will be supporting NHS England by providing essential support to NHS hospitals during the epidemic. It has been agreed with NHS England that our hospitals will be providing full hospital capacity and services including bed capacity, facilities, diagnostics, staffing, management and full organisation capability to the NHS. As a result, all elective surgery that was scheduled to take place at our hospitals has now been cancelled until further notice. We are contacting every patient this affects directly and personally and will endeavour to publish the latest information on our hospital websites and Facebook pages.

Everyone in our organisation is part of the NHS and Public Health response to COVID-19. All health professionals and those who work to support them, whether in the NHS or in other health providers, are in this together.

I wish you all well, and rest assured we will all be working to support you and your loved ones in the coming months in the best way possible.