20 April 2020
I’d like to welcome all of you who are watching or listening at home.
Before I speak in more detail about the Nightingale Hospital at Millbrook, I want to provide an update on our healthcare position, and the most recent statistics on testing and treatment.
As of today, we have tested 2192 samples for COVID-19 and have received 1880 negative results and 249 positive results.
Of those with positive results, 42% are male and 58% are female. The average age of those who have tested positive is 54.
We are currently awaiting the results of 153 outstanding tests.
I am pleased to report that 118 Islanders have fully recovered from Coronavirus, having originally tested positive. 45% of those who have recovered are male, and 55% are female. Their average age is 45.
Sadly, despite this positive outcome, 14 Islanders have passed away having tested positive or been suspected of having Coronavirus.
As an Island, I know we mourn their passing, and our thoughts remain with their friends and families. It is no less saddening for me that many had underlying health conditions or were elderly.
We want to protect and save as many lives as possible, and we continue to have good capacity to treat Islanders in hospital.
There are currently 63 Islanders being treated in Jersey General hospital for a range of medical conditions. Of those, 14 are Coronavirus patients.
As of 8am today we had a total of 134 beds available in the hospital, giving us an occupancy rate of 32%
Both I and the Coronavirus hotline have received many questions about Jersey’s temporary Nightingale Hospital, and I hope that I can answer some of them now.
The answers to these – and many other questions – are also on gov.je/coronavirus. That page has been updated over the weekend to make it more user-friendly.
And – if you want a regular update – you can get one by emailing coronavirus hotline at gov dot je and you’ll be added to the mailing list.
The temporary Hospital was designed to prevent our healthcare facilities from becoming over-stretched. It enables us to provide medical care to those requiring oxygen but not invasive ventilation.
The benefit of a Nightingale layout – two rows of fifteen beds in a ward – means that we can staff it with Registered Nurses who can see all beds from a central location. That means our nurses can work at their most efficient, enabling more patients to be cared for by fewer staff.
In building the hospital, this was one of the main objectives: to ensure that we didn’t add to the pressure on staffing numbers in our health service. And that was a deciding factor in choosing Millbrook Playing Fields.
Many questions I’ve received have been about why it was selected over other sites including, for example, Fort Regent and the RJHAS?
The initial site selection considered 16 locations, against a range of criteria such as the size of the facility, its basic infrastructure, the topography of the locations, the accessibility to key services and, importantly, rapid access to the General Hospital.
Some locations like the Fort could not accommodate the Nightingale layout. Some locations like the RJHAS were simply not as good for rapid patient transfer. And some had other issues. For example People’s Park had a slope which would have prevented work starting immediately.
Millbrook met all the criteria and enabled us to start work very quickly with minimal disruption.
The progress so far has been fantastic. The shell has been completed and work has already started on the interior.
The project team is led by Growth Housing and Environment, in partnership with Health and Community Services. And the contracting, design and delivery team are led by J3, a consortium of local and UK construction firms. They are using local contractors and support from the Military as required.
I want to say we are very lucky to have expert advice from J3; their direct line into Nightingale projects in the UK has been invaluable, ensuring our team learns from all the work that has already taken place over there.
We also received support from Ports of Jersey, and other Government services.
The building team – Neptunus, who came to Jersey from the Netherlands, completed the initial construction work in just eight days, and have now returned home to their families. While they’ve been here, they have lived together, separate from anyone else, to reduce the risk of any transmission, and have worked with a pace and precision for which I want to thank them. Their fellow workers, who gave them a guard of honour as they left the site, are continuing to work at a pace which – if anything – has increased. I want to thank them all.
I want to reassure you that our decision to build the Hospital considered any potential risks to Islanders, including the impact on nearby residents.
Our Nightingale Hospital will adhere to the same standards expected of any controlled, clinical environment. This includes the management of hazardous waste, and our air filtration will be more rigorous than that used in other Nightingale Hospitals in the United Kingdom. There is NO evidence to suggest that the wind direction and speed, for example, has any bearing on the spread of COVID-19.
And the hospital environment will be decontaminated very regularly in exactly the same way as we do in the General Hospital.
COVID-19 spreads through large respiratory droplets generated from an infected persons’ coughs or sneezes – these are heavy and quickly fall to the floor. And that is why we ask people to keep 2 metres apart from one another when outside their homes.
You will be aware that the Nightingale Hospital is a temporary structure. We anticipate that it will be operational for between 4 and 6 months. While we all hope there isn’t any need, there is an option to extend its use if necessary.
It will take a little time to dismantle the hospital when it is no longer needed, at which point the Millbrook Playing Fields WILL revert to its original use.
The total cost of the development is approximately £14.4 million.
One million of that is for the structure of the building and its rental.
The fit-out and design is a little over £6 million
And other costs include medical equipment, much of which will be reusable following the dismantling of the Nightingale Hospital. The oxygen generation plant, for example, is just one of the assets we will continue to use after the pandemic is over.
The overall cost of using an existing building would have only been marginally different, and – as I’ve said – existing buildings did not fulfil key criteria such as speed of transfer to the General Hospital and minimising the pressure on clinical staff.
When it comes to the day-to-day operation of the hospital, Health colleagues are presently working on staffing arrangements, and we will be able to confirm the numbers of nursing and support staff shortly.
THERE WILL BE some operational and logistic impacts on Islanders.
Patients will be assessed at the General Hospital before coming to the Nightingale Hospital via ambulance, and the entrance on the Avenue will be widened to accommodate them. The Inner Road entrance will be primarily for staff .
I know the current closure on the inner road has caused some concerns. It had to happen immediately to allow the Hospital to be connected to electrical, water and drainage services, and should last less than a week.
I want to thank everyone for supporting the project and for accepting the need for rapid decision making on the site and its construction.
We’ve had many offers from contractors to get involved in the project, with local companies offering their services for free or at cost.
This is an exciting project and a full team effort, from nursing to construction. The way that the local community have responded to it is fantastic. The team are getting gifts of cakes from schools and the church, and the Parish and its political representatives have been wholly supportive.
My thanks especially go to all the local residents who are coping with this immediate change in their own neighbourhood and their Parish representatives for supporting their communities during its construction.
This hospital is a critical aspect in our overall strategy to prepare the Island for a peak in Coronavirus cases, to protect the most vulnerable and to save lives.
This week, I have instructed officials to look ahead and to start to focus on our strategy for when health officials can recommend the lifting of restrictions.
You will have seen some countries around the world have already begun to lift restrictions to allow certain movement between work and home, and certain businesses like takeaways, corner shops and electrical stores to open. That actually reflects the position that Jersey is in today.
We will look carefully at our data over the coming week, and the positive impact we are seeing thanks to your great cooperation with the Stay Home measures. With that information and advice from medical professionals in place, we will then be able to publish our plan.
After his statement the Chief Minister invited questions from the media.