Homerton Hospital: Patient 'not told' they were on mixed-Covid ward

Clare Matheson and her mother Julia Lafferty at the NHS 70th birthday march in 2018

Clare Matheson and her mother Julia Lafferty at the NHS 70th birthday march in 2018 - Credit: Clare Matheson

The daughter of a 76-year-old patient at Homerton Hospital was "shocked" to learn her mother was being treated in a ward with Covid patients, despite being at risk. 

On Monday (February 9), Clare Matheson took time off work and travelled from her home in Surrey to Graham Ward at Homerton, to visit her elderly mother, Julia Lafferty. 

Upon entering, Clare said she was told she could not visit her mother as she was being treated on a ward with Covid patients. 

Clare and her mother said they were not made aware of this despite her mother being informed by nurses that she was allowed one nominated visitor. 

Clare said: "[My mother] did not have Covid when she arrived by ambulance to your hospital, she had pneumonia and was admitted to Homerton Hospital last week for that reason.

"She is vulnerable and prone to chest infections, so the decision to place her with Covid patients is an absolute disgrace and an immediate danger to her health."

Homerton Hospital

Homerton Hospital - Credit: Fin Fahey

Communications with the hospital reveal that Graham Ward is not a Covid ward but there are Covid patients in it. 

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Clare was told by a senior member of staff at the hospital that the ward is split into a green area with Covid-negative patients and a red area with Covid patients, located "around the corner" along an L-shaped corridor. 

Despite being in a mixed-Covid ward, Clare reported the nurses she saw were not wearing masks.

A senior nurse she spoke to said separate nurses are responsible for treating Covid patients in the ward.

The senior member of staff also stated that she was allowed to visit her mother and should not have been told to leave. 

Clare is working on having her mother, who has lived in Hackney for decades, transferred to another hospital. 

Clare added: "I spoke to my mother this morning and she says she has lost faith in [Homerton's] ability to care for her properly.

"She has asked for a transfer to my local hospital, which I have requested via email."

Clare added that if her mother contracts Covid, due to "Homerton Hospital's negligence", she would like an explanation as to why she was put into "such a dangerous situation". 

Her mother has reported being moved several times since she was admitted by ambulance to Homerton Hospital's A&E on February 2.

Julia's initial condition saw her put on oxygen and intravenous antibiotics for pneumonia.

Her age, as well as previous and current respiratory issues, place her in a high-risk category for Covid. 

While Homerton Hospital has informed Clare that transferring her mother will be a simple process, they also said on Tuesday (February 8) that her mother has been exposed to a Covid positive patient.

Julia has been transferred to a ward called Defoe ward and is now being treated with other patients who have also been exposed to Covid. 

The senior member of staff said via email: "I do fully acknowledge this has been your primary concern in all of your communication with the trust."

Despite the recent hospital experience Clare says her and her mother are both "strong supporters of the NHS and the "amazing job" it does. 

Clare has made formal complaints to Homerton Hospital's complaints department which have been acknowledged by the hospital trust. 

It says the complaints will be dealt with within 30 working days.

She worries that other patients in Homerton may also be at risk on mixed-Covid wards. 

A Homerton spokesperson said in response to Clare's allegations: "We are sorry if Ms Matheson is dissatisfied with aspects of her mother's care in our hospital. Senior nurses are in discussion with her to try the resolve the situation.

"The care and treatment of all our patients are our number one priority. The safety of patients and staff require us to adhere to strict infection control guidelines."