Hospitality businesses called on to manage safe hospital transfers

UK: Hospitality businesses, including guest houses, B&Bs and self-catered accommodations, are being called on to work with NHS hospitals across the UK to conduct safe patient and key worker transfers during the pandemic, as high numbers of patients remain in intensive care with Covid-19 or other emergencies.

NHS hospitals in London, Carlisle, Cumberland, Devon, Hampshire, Kent, Newcastle and the Isle of Wight are among those conducting patient and key worker transfers to manage the crisis, at a time when cases treated in hospital have quadrupled in parts of the UK.

As hospitals seek more beds, thousands of patients are reported to have bee discharged early to hotels as an emergency measure to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

The London Hotel Group worked with King’s College Hospital in London to transfer recovering coronavirus patients. The hospital stressed the patients discharged are not acutely unwell and can be safely cared for in a hotel.

Guest houses, B&Bs and other forms of self-catered accommodation are working directly with employers and adapting quickly to changing rules and regulations amid fast-changing situations.

Mark Simpson, founder of Boostly [Boostly Academy, Boostly’s Marketing podcast, Hospitality Community], has been helping accommodation businesses by teaching hosts how to retain control over their business with valuable marketing skills since last March.

Small, independent accommodation are open for qualifying guests:

  • Serviced Living Liverpool had key workers and patients travelling for treatment staying at their apartments across Liverpool regularly since March 2020. They worked directly with nursing agencies to provide last-minute accommodation at the lowest prices, often for no profit, for NHS staff.

  • Cwtch Homes Bangor & Beyond in Bangor, North Wales, has holiday let properties on Airbnb. NHS staff stayed in each lockdown and it is currently hosting an NHS doctor transferred from London for a local hospital [Ysbyty Gwynedd]. It has also hosted guests from social services, construction, security officers and the Ministry of Defence [MOD].

Katie Haselgrove, Airbnb host of Cwtch Homes Bangor & Beyond, said there had been increased demand for short-term accommodation during the pandemic: “I’m struggling a little at the moment as I was an accidental holiday let host. NHS staff have been desperate for accommodation since lockdown due to needing to isolate from families.”

  • Bryn Woodlands House in North Wales has been taking key workers since March 2020. The guest house catered for chemists and other essential workers.

  • Sheriff Lodge Matlock in the Peak District, Derbyshire, catered for MOD key workers since the first lockdown.

  • Beach Approach Cottage was offered free of charge to the NHS through the last lockdown to nurses at Scarborough Hospital.

  • Hawthorn House, a family-run Bed & Breakfast in Witney, near Oxford, is open for key workers.

  • Caerus Property is close to QMC Hospital in Nottingham and offers a ten per cent discount to NHS workers, NHS students and key workers at their fully self-catered accommodation.

  • The Trevelyn B&B in Morecambe, Lanchashire, are open for legally permitted guests. They received several bookings for key workers at a local nuclear power station [Heysham] and technical maintenance for water, electricity, transport and supermarkets.

Emma Rome, owner of The Trevelyn B&B, said: “Our ability to open was limited at first by problems clarifying with our insurer whether we can be covered at all if we take guests. However, in all cases, we require a third party [typically an employer for those travelling or work] to confirm that they are travelling for the reason they claim.

“This is to prevent casual holidaymakers from booking,” she added.

According to the Office for National Statistics [ONS], almost a third of accommodation providers have paused or closed their business due to the pandemic, with zero to low confidence that they will survive the next three months. Meanwhile, PwC reports that the hotel industry is facing an “unprecedentedly bleak outlook”, with London particularly badly hit.

Simpson is now encouraging guests who qualify to Google the local area and to call to book directly with independent accommodation for the most flexible deals. Grant money has allowed businesses to provide cost price or free accommodation.

He said: “These accommodation businesses are often keeping the lights on out of their own pocket. Smaller accommodations are happy to provide for key workers and do all they can to help in the current crisis across the UK.”

How to book direct?
  • Key workers and employers [e.g. NHS Trusts] should search on Google for their requirements and location then book online via the best accommodation’s website. Email or phone for the most up-to-date information, best prices and extra provisions.
  • Online travel agents such as Booking.com or Airbnb may have outdated information or might not show places as open. Simpson said: “It’s more important than ever to look to book direct right now.”
Current UK government guidelines for accommodation

Accommodation businesses are required to obtain permission from local authorities to be open and will require evidence for travel reasons before accepting a booking.

They are open for guests travelling for:

  • Essential work

  • Education

  • Medical treatment

  • Caring responsibilities

  • Voluntary, charitable or youth services

  • Moving home / between stays

  • Visiting a support bubble

Boostly’s community of hospitality providers is seeking to provide safe and comfortable accommodation to those fighting on the frontline against Covid-19 after a long, hard day’s work.

For more information, contact Boostly founder Mark Simpson at mark@boostly.co.uk.