Background: The largest outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is ongoing in West Africa. Air-travel data indicate that outside Africa, the UK is among the countries at greatest risk of importing a case of EVD. Hospitals in England were therefore instructed to prepare for the assessment and early management of suspected cases. However, the response of hospitals across England is undetermined. Aim: To evaluate the readiness of acute hospitals in England, and to describe the challenges experienced in preparing for suspected cases of EVD. Methods: A cross-sectional study using semi-structured telephone interviews and online surveys of all acute National Health Service (NHS) hospital trusts in England (hospital trusts are the vehicle by which one or more NHS hospitals in a geographical area are managed). Findings: In total, 112 hospital trusts completed the survey. All interviewed hospital trusts reported undertaking preparedness activities for suspected cases of EVD, and 97% reported that they were ready to assess suspected cases. Most hospital trusts had considered scenarios in accident & emergency (97%). However, fewer hospital trusts had considered specific obstetric (61%) and paediatric scenarios (79%), the provision of ventilatory and renal support (75%), or resuscitation in the event of cardiorespiratory arrest (56%). Thirty-four hospital trusts reported issues with timely access to category A couriers for sample transportation. Challenges included the choice, use and procurement of personal protective equipment (71%), national guidance interpretation (62%) and resource allocation/management support (38%). Conclusion: English hospital trusts have engaged well with EVD preparedness. Although subsequent national guidance has addressed some issues identified in this study, there remains further scope for improvement, particularly in a practical direction, for acute care services encountering suspected cases of EVD.
- Ebola virus disease