Covid hospitalisations 'plateauing', says Homerton Hospital chief executive

A nurse wearing full PPE adjusts a curtain on a ward for Covid patients at King's College Hospital

A nurse wearing full PPE adjusts a curtain on a ward for Covid patients - Credit: PA

Homerton Hospital’s chief executive has said the number of Covid patients being cared for appears to be “plateauing”.

Tracey Fletcher said staff had been concerned what the weekend would bring.

It is just over a fortnight since Christmas, when families mixed together, prompting fears about the impact of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

It is thought that one in 10 Londoners had Omicron in the last week in December and Hackney’s deputy director of public health Chris Lovitt said there were worries for the over-60s, for whom “the complications can be much more serious”.

Fletcher said there was a roughly 50/50 split between patients admitted after suffering from the virus and those being treated for other health problems who have tested positive for Covid.

There are 99 patients with Covid, including six on ventilators, according to the latest figures.

Fletcher said: “We were expecting a pretty dire weekend and actually it seemed to level out over the weekend.”

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However, together with other hospitals in north-east London, “we managed to [keep] our noses above water”, she told the council’s Health in Hackney committee.

She added: “We’ll see what the next week or two brings because normally the whole of January is quite a difficult period for us anyway, even without Covid.”

Chief executive of Homerton Hospital Tracey Fletcher

Chief executive of Homerton Hospital Tracey Fletcher - Credit: Homerton Hospital

She said the hospital was working hard to get out-of-area patients discharged safely, and that staffing has been stretched.

“We still continue with a high number of staff off either sick or Covid-positive,” she revealed.

Staff who tested positive over Christmas and the New Year are beginning to return to work.

Fletcher explained: “We are managing just about to get by on that, but it is still pretty tight.”

The rise of Omicron saw the government bring in its plan B, with mandatory use of face coverings on public transport and other public places, and renewed advice to work from home if possible.

Homerton brought in new visiting rules before Christmas and is keeping them under review.

Visitors are not allowed on general wards and other rules mean they are not allowed to see seriously ill relatives in intensive care.

Exceptions include visits to dying relatives with only one visitor allowed at a time.

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