What coronavirus pods at Hereford hospital are now used for

CORONAVIRUS pods at Hereford County Hospital have a new role to play in healthcare during the pandemic, 12 months after they were put into place.

In February 2020, the pods appeared at hospitals across the country so people who potentially had coronavirus could be assessed in an area away from other patients.

But a year on, the Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, says it’s been “some time” since they were used for testing.

A spokesperson said: “They were initially used for swab testing patients for Covid-19. They are still there but haven’t been used for this purpose for quite some time.

“They are currently being used for virtual clinics (consultants speaking to patients remotely) and to provide extra space while construction work takes place in and around the emergency department.”

The work being done at the A&E department comes as a result of around £2 million funding announced by Boris Johnson in the summer, with the money used to prepare the hospital for winter.

The small Portakabin-type buildings were set up in early February 2020 and surrounded by temporary fencing.

A letter from Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, said the pod plans were needed to avoid a “surge in emergency departments due to coronavirus”.

The concern at the time, which was almost a month before the first case was confirmed in Herefordshire, was of people coming to the UK from the Wuhan province in China – the area where the virus was first reported.

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