MORE than 100 members of staff at York Hospital have been trained up in basic intensive care skills to help ensure it is ready for a massive influx of patients with coronavirus.

The staff will support existing critical care teams in the coming weeks, said an intensive care consultant, Sue Urwin.

She took to Facebook to hail the "enormous achievements made by a dedicated team in a very short time", adding: “People of York, your intensive care and anaesthetic department is ready!”

She was forwarding an email sent by a fellow ICU consultant to members of the team, in which they said that the basic training had given staff the confidence to see how important they would be in supporting and caring for the hospital’s sickest patients.

They said a multitude of people had helped train everyone in the art of "donning and doffing" PPE (personal protective equipment), and the vast majority had been "fit tested" by a small army of testers, so they could properly protect themselves in the highest risk situations when caring for the sickest.

“A large number of staff have had opportunity to run some simulation drills in intubation and management of Covid-19 patients both on ICU and in theatre/obstetrics, to ensure we deliver first rate care whilst protecting one another.”

They said the main operating theatres had been transformed into a third Intensive Care Unit to care for the sickest non Covid-19 patients, which had been a huge undertaking.

“We have decamped all our acute work down to the day unit in a number of hours to free up staff to help on ICU, whilst ensuring we do not have any pause in our acute theatre delivery.”

They said patients on Ward 27 had been moved with staff on the ward giving up their valuable free time to get it done, so as to create space for Covid-19 patients.

Staff rotas had also been entirely rewritten for coming weeks to ensure there was "good and robust cover where we need it most to care for the sickest patients".

“We have written numerous protocols for the care of Covid-19 patients to ensure we effectively care for some of the sickest patients in our community."

The consultant added: "I’m so proud to be part of this team.”

A hospital spokeswoman said the email supported what the hospital had been saying about the huge efforts that were being made by staff to train, test plans and ensure clinical areas were ready.

She said the 100-plus staff who had been trained up in ICU-skills were doctors, nurses and other professionals with clinical skills, from other departments at the hospital.

“This is just one part of the work that is going on across our hospitals to ensure we are prepared,” she added.

She confirmed that while some patients with Covid-19 had already come to the hospital, it was anticipated that numbers would rise in coming weeks - in line with what had happened at other hospitals elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance has re-deployed some key medical staff to support frontline care, with some paramedics helping on ambulances, and so only one helicopter will fly for a temporary period.