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Covid plans set for next spike with 150pc more east London hospital beds after 650 deaths

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 September 2020

East London hospitals working on backlog of operations that were put on hold at start of pandemic. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

East London hospitals working on backlog of operations that were put on hold at start of pandemic. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

Barts NHS Trust

Hospital bosses at the Royal London and the Newham University are ready to mobilise a 150 per cent rise emergency beds for Covid-19 patients if there is a major coronavirus spike this winter.

Total isolation... strict hospital mreasures keeping Covid patients far away from rest of the hospital. Picture: Barts NHS TrustTotal isolation... strict hospital mreasures keeping Covid patients far away from rest of the hospital. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

The estimate has emerged in a report this week into contingency plans set out into how Barts Health NHS trust intends to manage the ongoing pandemic while restoring as many routine hospital services in east London as possible.

The hospital group which also includes the Mile End, St Bartholemew’s and Whipps Cross currently has 125 critical care beds available.

But the operational plan envisages adding 195 more over the next month, largely by fully opening the new isolation unit created earlier this year on the 15th floor of the Royal London in Whitechapel.

An estimated 650 patients have died from coronavirus in east London since March, but 3,000 have recovered following intensive treatment.

Bart’s NHS trust chief praises Covid nurses like Emma Leahy helping hospitals meet the backlog. Picture: Barts NHS TrustBart’s NHS trust chief praises Covid nurses like Emma Leahy helping hospitals meet the backlog. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

Bart’s chief executive Alwen Williams paid tribute to how NHS staff had adopted new ways of working to enable the hospitals to restart treatments that had been put “on hold” in March and start chipping away at the backlog.

“Infection prevention and control remains top priority,” she said. “Hospital departments are now divided into zones so coronavirus cases can be treated in isolation.

“All staff and visitors must wear face masks in public and in areas where patients are treated.”

There are now 490 overnight beds in the five hospitals, plus 61 day-care spaces, so patients whose planned routine operations were postponed earlier in the pandemic can now be rescheduled for treatment.

Emma Leahy ... one of an army of east London's NHS hero nurses who volunteered to work in high-risk Covid wards. Picture: Barts NHS TrustEmma Leahy ... one of an army of east London's NHS hero nurses who volunteered to work in high-risk Covid wards. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

The plans are set out in a Living With Covid report into how the Barts hospital group can manage during the pandemic, which were finalised just before the daily numbers of Covid-19 cases started rising again.

The report also sets out how the five hospitals are able to respond to “the disproportionate impact” of Covid-19 on ethnic staff, patients and communities across east London.

Bart’s has a total workforce of around 17,000, the largest NHS trust anywhere in Britain which is responsible for the medical care of a two-and-a-half million population across east London and beyond, on a budget of £1.5 billion.


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