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’It’s like a major incident every day’: 32 die of coronavirus at Homerton Hospital and 266 serious cases in City and Hackney

PUBLISHED: 18:53 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 19:07 03 April 2020

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London, a temporary hospital with 4000 beds which has been set up for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London, a temporary hospital with 4000 beds which has been set up for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Images

The impact of coronavirus on Homerton Hospital on staff has been like “having a major incident every day for the last two weeks” and presents a “high stress situation day-in day-out” for its frontline staff.

The hospital in Homerton Row has undergone a dramatic overhaul within just a few days to deal with patients suspected of, or who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Staff are now tending to 168 patients in six specially adapted wards with bed bays which can be isolated, and its intensive care unit (ICU) has seen an increase from 10 beds to 29 in just 10 days.

Scores of patients have already been treated, and many have been able to go home.

However 32 of them have sadly died in the past 12 days. The figure has surged by 10 in the past two days alone. 
Public Health England has announced there have been 266 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in City and Hackney as of 9am Thursday morning.

Homerton's recently refurbished Audley ward, which is now taking in coronavirus patients. Picture: Homerton HospitalHomerton's recently refurbished Audley ward, which is now taking in coronavirus patients. Picture: Homerton Hospital

“It’s like having a major incident every day for the last two weeks and we dont know how long it’s going to be going on for,” said a spokesperson.

“The term could be that we have cleared the decks, as has nearly every other hospital. It’s an amazing turnaround, and we are looking at increasing the ICU capacity even further.”

Hospital chiefs are looking for ideas of “how to keep staff going”.

“Local individuals and companies have been fantastic,” said the spokesperson.

“There is so much food and drink that people are going to be on Weight Watchers when this is all over, and staff were again knocked out by the Thursday night Clap for Carers.

“We need to keep the morale up, as this is a high stress situation day-in day-out.

“We have people who are ill and then have to be escalated up to critical care beds - that’s how fluent the situation is.

“The patients are coming through in high numbers and as far as the London Ambulance Service are concerned when they bring them in, they suspect them of suffering the symptoms of Covid.”

The hospital is also “upskilling” staff to help support the teams caring for coronavirus patients on the wards.

“Staff who do our endoscopy tests have been retrained and are now working on the wards,” said the spokesperson.

“We are having to adapt fully to increase the ability of the hospital to deal with what’s coming through the door.

“We are also reaching out to our bank staff and other people who may have worked in the hospital in the past.”

It is hoped the new 4,000 bed Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel which was opened by Prince Charles via a video link today, will have an “enormous impact” as it starts to build up the number of beds it has open.

“We hope it will not only manage any surge in cases, but also relieve some of the pressure that’s on hospitals in our patch,” said a spokesperson.

Other parts of Homerton Hospital continue to function as normal, including the maternity and the paediatric intensive care unit. But all elective surgery has been suspended for the time being, along with all outpatient clinics.

The hospital is liaising with GPs to make sure patients who require urgent consultations can be contacted by phone.

People who are attending for blood tests should access the site via the rear entrance in Clifden Road, and go to the Clifden Centre.

Click here to join the discussion in our coronavirus Facebook group.

Click here for a directory of agencies that are helping people during the pandemic.


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