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Date: 19 June 2021

Time: 10:38

Dr Olav Van Loon standing in front of his practice

GPs answer COVID support call

Story posted/last updated: 02 June 2021

GPs from across Birmingham and Solihull answered the call to support hospital inpatients after the Trust experienced its most challenging wave of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The third wave of COVID-19 to hit the Trust bought UHB’s number of positive inpatients to over 1,050 - the highest of any trust in the country, while at the same time it was providing care for over 1,300 non-COVID patients during the peak in January.

With almost 220 patients also receiving intensive care in critical care units across UHB, the Trust needed extra help from health professionals across Birmingham and Solihull.

Over 1,500 nurses, doctors, therapists, and military staff from Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospitals, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and other departments at UHB were redeployed to support efforts on wards and in critical care units on all sites.

One of 12 GPs to join the Trust during its most challenging hour was Dr Olav Van Loon, who volunteered to support very sick inpatients in the critical care unit at Good Hope Hospital.

Dr Van Loon, who is a GP in Sutton Coldfield and also sits on the governing body for Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As a medic in general practice I deal with patients every day, but going into critical care I quickly realised this was different, this was life or death.

“Working there made me feel like I was contributing to the health care system in a different way. People have told me I was brave for volunteering, but this it wasn’t about bravery, I just wanted to help out.

“It was so clear that all the nurses and consultants in critical care were so appreciative of what we were doing, and they were so welcoming and supportive. It was a real team effort, everyone there is doing the very best they can.”

Site Responsible Clinician for Good Hope Hospital, Dr Khaled Elfandi, said: “The contribution of GPs has been invaluable to ensure that patients in Birmingham and Solihull could access timely acute hospital care when they needed it most, and while our hospitals were under the most immense pressure ever experienced.

“The efforts of GPs to so quickly integrate, pick up and learn systems they haven’t used before, in spaces and places they’re not necessarily familiar with, to then provide such expert and compassionate care by jumping straight onto the front line, was humbling to see, and our patients and colleagues across the Trust will share my enormous gratitude for their support.”

Dr Richard Mendelsohn, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, said: “GPs have been working incredibly hard to respond to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. General practice had to change almost overnight to ensure that patients could continue to receive safe and timely care, and we’ve seen real innovation and commitment from practices and colleagues across Birmingham and Solihull. The contribution of doctors like Dr Van Loon, who have also gone above and beyond to support the wider NHS, is a prime example of the dedication and compassion our GP colleagues have shown throughout the last year.”

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