HEALTH minister Nadine Dorries has praised a campaign that aims to protect Southampton hospitals from a second wave of Covid-19.

The minister paid a virtual visit to the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) to learn more about its COVID ZERO campaign.

The trust's message to the local community and its 11,500 staff is “walk, wear, wash”.

Health experts say people should follow government guidelines by walking apart - and wear a face mask whenever they are unable to do so. They should also wash their hands as often as possible.

The Daily Echo-backed campaign aims to speed up the return of hospital services while keeping staff and patients safe from the threat of coronavirus.

It was launched in July amid fears that hospitals would be overwhelmed by a second phase of coronavirus.

The minister heard from a range of staff including chief medical officer Derek Sandeman and chief nursing officer Gail Byrne who spearheaded the campaign across the Trust and wider community.

Colleagues from infection control, patient safety and intensive care teams were also on the call to hear the minister praise the campaign for how it was putting patients and staff at the heart of safety culture.

She described how planning for a second wave at UHS would be greatly helped by having the ambition of being without any transmission of Covid within the hospital, adding: “If you don’t have that objective of COVID ZERO how would you reach it? You can reach it by having the right strategy and objective to reach that goal.

“What you are doing is an example of best practice and we need to be looking at how we harness this.”

Emergency nurse Laszlo Penzes also joined the virtual visit to talk the minister through his own treatment and recovery from COVID-19 and how he has now become an ambassador for the campaign.

He said: “I am a passionate believer in this campaign because it has a purpose to what it is asking people to do, there is a real outcome here.

"If people understand the importance and purpose of the walk, wash, wear measures they will contribute to shortening the length and reduce the consequences of this pandemic.”


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