Covid-19 News Release from The Royal Berkshire Hospital

The next stages in a major Covid-19 action plan aimed at ensuring local patients, staff and communities are guaranteed first class health care and support have been outlined by hospital leaders today.

The far reaching plan builds on work already in place at the Royal Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust and is aimed at reassuring people that everything possible is being done to make sure they are kept safe and well during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

There are four main strands to the plan:

·         To reduce the number of people – patients, visitors and staff – on hospital sites

·         To increase and enhance the RBH’s capacity to treat patients

·         To reduce demand so the focus is on the patients most in need of help

·         To look after hard working staff and make sure they have the equipment and facilities they need

Measures have already been put in place to tackle these critically important areas.

  • Many more people are being offered virtual outpatient clinic appointments to receive healthcare over the phone or via a laptop.
  • Visitors have been restricted to one per patient per day.  
  • The hospital layout has been revised to establish separate zones to deal with the differing needs of patients and keep everyone safe
  • Intensive care capacity has increased from 14 to 34 beds
  • Elective surgery has been suspended to free up time for key staff to be retrained in other more urgent areas of work

Now the next phase of the action plan is being implemented and this will mean more changes to the way the hospital works and the way patients and visitors will be asked to operate.

In a bid to further reduce the number of people coming on to the hospital site, some services may be deferred, and other services may be moved to alternative private hospital settings. Children under the age of 12 will no longer be able to go to the RBH as visitors.

To increase capacity to deal with Covid 19 patients, there are plans to increase intensive care beds to 56 and health managers are in talks with the independent sector to move urgent surgery to private hospitals.

Demand in A&E has seen a fall recently but more needs to be done to ease the pressure on staff and an ‘Ask A&E’ online helpline service is being explored.

The welfare of staff is paramount in the action plan and senior management teams are looking at what more can be offered to ease the unprecedented demands facing all those working in the hospital – the clinicians and vital back up and support teams like cleaners, porters and admin employees.

Trust Chief Executive Steve McManus, said: “Whilst we’re all in very new territory with this virus we have a huge amount of tried and tested experience of planning for and dealing with major outbreaks like this. There are national and regional systems in place to support us and this, coupled with the work we’re doing at the Trust, is all aimed at keeping everyone safe and making sure we can sustain this level of care for the period of this outbreak.

“We all know now that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s crucial we plan and operate in a careful, measured way over the next few weeks and months so our resources, both staff, equipment and facilities, are able to continue providing exceptional standards of care.

“We have amazing staff with many, many years of expertise, experience and knowledge behind them and I want people to know they are in safe hands.

“This incredible wealth of healthcare expertise is being enhanced by the really outstanding support from our local communities and partners and we can’t thank them enough for all their on-going support,” he said.

“We recognise we’re asking a lot of people, often at very difficult times in their lives when they are unwell or wanting to be with people who are ill. Our staff too are facing all sorts of difficult day-to-day issues and this is why the support and understanding we offer to each other is so important.

“With this in mind, I really do hope people will appreciate why we’ve had to take some of the decisions we have taken, for example around visiting family and loved ones in hospital. I know this will be extremely hard for some people but we can’t say it enough –  If we are to successfully deal with this virus, stop its spread, treat those affected and free up the hospital’s resources to do so, then we have to take these sort of serious steps now. 

“So my message to them is please think again just how much they really do need to make that visit. Can they keep in touch with their loved one over the phone for now? By choosing not to come into the building they are doing a huge amount to help our staff,” he added.

Covid-19 Phishing Emails

A number of #COVID19 related phishing emails have been reported to Action Fraud. These emails attempt to trick you into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing your personal information, logins, passwords, or banking details.

Protect yourself
1) Watch out for scam messages
Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

2) Shopping online:
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit:

3) Protect your devices from the latest threats:
Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.

For information on how to update your devices, please visit:
For the latest health information and advice about COVID-19 please visit the NHS website.
Message Sent By
Mike Douglas (VISAV, Administrator, National)

Car parking free at West Berkshire Council-operated car parks

Car parks operated by West Berkshire Council will be free until further notice to help make life easier for key workers at this difficult time.

With immediate effect please note that the parking charges have been suspended at all off-street car parks across West Berkshire until further notice. Charges have also been suspended at our on-street parking bays. This initiative will help support key workers needing to use their cars during this intense period of disruption due to the Covid19 outbreak.

Signs are being erected to this effect at the entrances to those car parks that will remain open, however we will be unable to provide similar notification at the on-street parking bays due to the number and spread of locations involved.  

Where appropriate our officers have provided information on timings and emergency contact details for enquiries on equipment within the car parks. The Kennet Centre car park will only be open between 7am and 7pm, however this will be restricted to the ground floor only and will be unattended, with the lifts also being out of use. Northbrook Street car park has been closed until further notice and the car parks within the Wharf area have had their barriers lifted for unrestricted access.       

Season tickets holders will have their expiry period extended by two months, which will hopefully be suitable for most users given the current circumstances. If this is not suitable for some ticket holders, advice regarding refunds will be made available on our website in due course.

Regardless of the measures we have introduced for our car parking restrictions throughout our district we do ask that all road users still help to ensure the roads are kept clear for all traffic, including emergency services and that the double yellow lines and disabled parking bays are respected.  

Councillor Richard Somner, Executive Member for Transport, said: “We recognise the important roles key workers have in our communities. It’s only right that we ensure they don’t have to contend with anything which might be seen as an obstacle to them carrying out their duties at this very difficult time.” 

Message from your district councillors

We are living through extraordinary times, and it is times like this that bring out the best in people and our communities as we all pull together and support each other.  As a Ward Members we want to express our sincere thanks to all the amazing volunteers who are helping those who are vulnerable, most in need and isolated.  Although our parishes are proving to be very self-sufficient, West Berkshire Council is launching a Community Support Hub, which will also offer additional support if needed and there will be a single point of contact for all Parish Councils.   Please continue to adhere to government guidance and keep safe.

Hilary Cole & Garth Simpson

Road Closure – Marlston Road, Hermitage

Marlston Road in the Parish of Hermitage will be closed on 23rd March 2020 from the hours of 09:30 to 15:30 between its junction with Slanting Hill and Unnamed Road from Burnbush Lane to Brocks Lane. The closure is to enable Volker Highways to carry out repairs to the carriageway.

The alternative route for all vehicles affected by the Order is via Burntbush Lane, Briff Lane, Little Lane, Broad Lane, Burdens Heath, Broad Lane, The Ridge, Hermitage Road Slanting Hill and vice versa.

A plan of the closure can be found at: (click on link)

Residential access will be maintained throughout and the diversion will be signed on site.

Please Note: Whilst Blue light access will be maintained, approach with caution as plant may have to be moved

All enquiries should be directed to: West Berkshire Highways Maintenance Team on 01635 519080