Homerton Hospital forced to open escalation ward

The majority of patients currently in critical conditions have not been fully vaccinated.

The majority of patients currently in critical conditions have not been fully vaccinated. - Credit: Julia Gregory

Homerton Hospital has had to open its escalation ward to cope with demand.

The hospital’s chief executive Tracey Fletcher said Covid patients are currently taking up a whole ward as well as the escalation area in the intensive therapy unit.

She told the City and Hackney outbreak control board: “It is absolutely true to say that we are very, very busy.

“Covid patients are being contained at the moment, but we would not want the numbers to increase any more, to spill over onto a second ward.”

All hospitals in north-east London are rammed, she said, and patients are diverted from other hospitals, including Whipps Cross, if needed.

The hospital in Hackney has the highest number of patients suffering from Covid in the latest wave of the infection. It has been increasing since July, with a dip in September.

There were 34 Covid patients at the hospital in the week ending November, 2 including five on ventilation machines. This is a 36 per cent increase on the previous week when there were 25 Covid patients – six of them on ventilators.

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A fifth of the acute patients at the hospital have Covid.

Escalation beds are brought in to cope with extra demand, usually in the winter. It is not always opened even in peak times. 

According to the latest data, 524 people have died of Covid in Hackney, with 12 deaths in the City.

Four people died in Hackney from the virus in the week ending October 29.

It comes as case rates in Hackney and the City are beginning to rise, with an increase in all age groups.

City and Hackney’s director of public health Dr Sandra Husbands said: “If we have enough people with Covid it’s just going to add to the existing NHS pressure and create the situation where not just locally but across the country we may have to go to plan B.”

By November 10, 68 per cent of City residents over the age of 12 had at least one dose of the vaccine – 60 per cent in Hackney.

Husbands warned that Covid patients in critical care are mainly people who are not fully vaccinated.

Whilst the vaccine does not fully prevent people getting or spreading the more virulent delta variant, it cuts the risk of them getting a severe infection or dying from the virus.