Wigan doctor issues positive update on the borough's fight against Covid-19

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A doctor on the frontline of Wigan’s coronavirus battle has shared his experience of just how well patients and staff are fighting the virus.

A doctor on the frontline of Wigan’s coronavirus battle has shared his experience of just how well patients and staff are fighting the virus.

Much has been made of the tragic number of Covid-19-related deaths, which stands at almost 13,000 in the UK, as the Government keeps up its message of preventing the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

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Wigan doctor reassures NHS staff and patients over PPE supplies
Dr Abdul AshishDr Abdul Ashish
Dr Abdul Ashish | other

And today, one of the Trust’s leading physicians has added to the reassurance for residents by issuing a positive update on the number of Wigan patients recovering from coronavirus. This includes many elderly, those with underlying health conditions and also patients in intensive care.

Dr Abdul Ashish is a chest physician and Medical Director for the medicine division at Wigan Infirmary, where the majority of patients with Covid-19 and pneumonia are being cared for. Despite an increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, the growth rate has been slowing down, he said.

“Overall, what we are seeing is that, unfortunately, the number of Covid-positive cases that are coming to our hospital has been steadily increasing over the last four weeks or so. However, there are far more of these people who are discharged following this, than those who are not,” said Dr Ashish.

“The important message is that the majority of patients that we see... are coping with their illness very well and going home within a few days.

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“A small proportion of patients will require a slightly longer hospital stay. They are being cared for by experienced consultants, on wards dedicated to [Covid-19]. Even those who are elderly, and those who are identified as high risk patients, are making good recoveries, and many have now gone home.”

“We were concerned about the experiences from Italy and China, about the outcomes of our patients and the number of cases that we were going to see. It’s a bit too early to say for sure, but we feel we are on top of managing this virus here in Wigan.”

The positive outcomes for most Wigan patients fighting the virus is down to efforts of the tireless NHS staff, Wigan’s well equipped hospital facilities, and residents following social distancing guidelines to stop the hospitals becoming overwhelmed, according to Dr Ashish.

He said: “We have certainly started seeing a small but steady reduction in the number of new cases, and we hope that this continues over the coming weeks. However, it may be too early to predict what is going to happen over the next few weeks.

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“It is important for our population to heed the message of social distancing, staying at home, and helping us help them.”

He added: “Our ICU (intensive care unit) clinicians and nurses have also been reorganised to provide effective clinical care, and our staff are working tirelessly to care for these patients who are, unfortunately, critically ill.”

Dr Ashish also spoke about the cutting-edge research being carried out at Wrightington Hospital as part of a national response to the virus.

WWL was one of the first three NHS trusts in the country to begin research into Covid-19, recruiting patients to assist with vital medical studies.

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The Trust’s Research and Development department, based at Wrightington Hospital, is conducting national research in the fight against Covid-19, by carrying out clinical trials with patients who have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19, joining a study called ‘Recovery’, overseen by the National Institute of Health Research.

The study is designed for people who are admitted to hospital and, although there has been a range of potential treatments suggested for Covid-19, nobody knows if any of them will turn out to be more effective than the usual treatment given.

Dr Ashish was appointed as the project’s Principle Investigator and is working to make the medications available at the earliest possible time.

He said: “We have been very successful in recruiting high numbers of patients into this clinical trial, with the support of our colleagues in the research department.”

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WWL is also involved in a World Health Organization and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections Consortium (ISARIC) study by providing data around clinical characteristics for severe emerging infections. This study is recognised as being an urgent Public Health Research study.

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