‘If anyone is anxious about going into hospital they have no need to be’.

Ray Potter, the first patient to have complex surgery at King George Hospital after a Covid-protected ‘green zone’ was implemented, along with other measures to keep patients safe, has spoken out to help reassure others who may be anxious about visiting the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Grandfather-of-eight Ray had an operation to remove the top part of his stomach and bottom part of his oesophagus after being diagnosed with cancer of the oesopagus on New Year’s Eve.

He said: “I was surprised when I got the call to say my procedure could go ahead, however, when they explained everything they’d done, such as the green zone, I wasn’t worried at all.

“When I was in hospital I could see the care that was going into keeping everyone safe. I don’t believe I could have got any better care even by spending thousands for private treatment. If anyone is anxious about going to hospital, they have no need to be. You will be well looked after and there are lots of checks in place to keep you safe.”

To be able to resume surgery at King George Hospital, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust introduced a number of measures, including zoning sections of the hospital, restricting public access and staff movement, creating new entrances, and increasing patient pre-assessment checks.

Patients having surgery, like 64-year-old Ray, must self-isolate before and after their procedure and also have a Covid-19 swab test ahead of their surgery, as well as a temperature check on the day. And they have their own dedicated entrance and exit, both within the green zone.

There are also additional checks for staff working in this zone to keep it as Covid-19 free as possible.

For Ray’s more complex surgery to go ahead, on Wednesday 24 June,the Trust needed to extend the green zone to include intensive care, where he spent over a week recovering after his operation.

Ray, of Artesian Close, Hornchurch, added: “As I was the first to have more complex surgery I was the only patient in intensive care for some of my stay, which meant I was really spoilt by the staff!

“I feel really lucky to have had my operation and my family are really happy. I’ve been told I’m now cancer-free however, I’ll be having some more rounds of chemo to make sure.”

Since the start of the pandemic, technician Ray has had to self-isolatewith wife Doreen, 64, due to his cancer diagnosis. He was offered the opportunity to have his surgery slightly earlier at a private hospital working with the Trust.

He added: “I got a call in May that I could have had it in London, but it wouldn’t have been with my surgeon, Dr Amalesh, who I’ve been with since the start.

“He’s been doing this operation for 14 years so I decided I’d stick with him, his experience really reassured me.”

Ray, whose grandchildren range in age from six up to 20, is also dad to Tracey, 44, Julie, 42, and 38-year-old Kelly.

To find out more about how the Trust, which also runs Queen’s Hospital, is keeping patients safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, check out the Covid section of the website, https://www.bhrhospitals.nhs.uk/our-services-during-covid-19.

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