How Homerton Hospital staff took on the virus in the first year of Covid

Annmarie with the team at Homerton Hospital. Picture: Homerton Hospital

Mother-of-three Annmarie Horgle, 55, was the first coronavirus patient to be discharged from Homerton Hospital after leaving intensive care. - Credit: Archant

When family could not visit loved ones with Covid-19 at Homerton Hospital, it was staff members who stayed with them in their final moments.

Dr Isabella Harrod said a review of the 379 people who died with Covid at the hospital between April 2020 and March 2021 showed very clearly the impact of the first and second wave of the pandemic

Staff looked after 1,352 Covid patients during the first year of the pandemic.

Dr Harrod said Homerton staff “went the extra mile” to be with seriously ill patients as the strict rules meant loved ones could not be with them at their final moments.

Overall hospital workers cared for 1,605 people with Covid, including 125 who were treated in intensive care.

According to the latest data, which looked at infections at the Hackney hospital, January saw the highest number of deaths, with 159, followed by 103 last April, after the first national lockdown was announced.

Dr Harrod said: “Over the past year there has been an increased focus on clear communication with families who were often unable to visit the ward.”

She said staff on wards and intensive care gave families frequent updates as they were unable to visit because of Covid restrictions.

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“The important role of this was recognised and many staff went the extra mile to provide these updates and also spend time with dying patients who could not receive visitors,” she said.

“Some visitors were allowed in on compassionate grounds at the end of life, whilst adhering to strict infection control guidance."

The majority of Covid-related deaths were among older patients.

An ambulance crew load an empty bed onto an ambulance outside the Royal London Hospital, in London.

The highest number of deaths were among patients aged between 75 to 84, followed by patients aged 85 or more and then people aged 65 to 74. There were only ten people under 45 who died in the first and second waves of the virus. - Credit: PA

The highest number of deaths was among patients aged between 75 to 84, followed by patients aged 85 or more and then people aged 65 to 74. There were only ten people under 45 who died in the first and second waves of the virus.

Between April 2020 and March 2021 the hospital had 1,523 positive Covid cases, and 125 patients were treated in intensive care.

January this year saw the highest number of cases in a month – with 527 patients with Covid, 45 of them in intensive care.

This was an increase of 163 inpatients on the previous month, when 36 patients were treated in intensive care and 364 people were cared for overall.

April 2020 saw the third highest number of admissions with 211 patients, including 19 in ICU.

Homerton held serious incident reviews into the deaths of any patients who may have contracted Covid on site.

A total of patients contracted the virus in the hospital – 5.1 per cent of cases. 18 of them died.

According to hospitals statistics, there was a peak in patients catching Covid there between November and January.

A doctor injects a vaccine into Josephine Casey's arm.

83-year-old Josephine Casey was the first person in Hackney to receive a coronavirus vaccine. - Credit: Sean Pollock

There were no outbreaks during the first wave, but there were 10 outbreaks in the wards during the second wave from November 2020 to February 2021, along with seven staff outbreaks. 10 patients died as a result of the outbreaks, prompting a review and learning report.

The virus affected staff, with 2,267 off sick over the year. The highest number was in April 2020, when 257 staff were off sick. December saw 157 staff with Covid and 263 had to self isolate in December after they were in contact with someone with the virus.

The latest Covid figures show cases in Hackney have dropped and deaths remain low. Hackney saw 848 cases in the week ending July 27, down from 1,489 the previous week. This means cases have reduced by 43 per cent. 

The last time there was a decrease in cases was on May 4. 

People aged 20-39, the group with the highest incidence of the disease, saw the sharpest decline in cases, from 1,142 in the week ending July 20 to 599 last week. 

59pc of the population in Hackney has been vaccinated so far

Bed occupancy rates in hospital had increased in the borough in the week ending July 20, up by 33pc on the previous week. 

All-cause mortality is under the five year average and Covid fatalities have remained at zero or one for several months.