The unique role played by St Bartholomew's Hospital during the recent surge in Covid-19 cases is described in a new report, published this week.
'A winter like no other' is the inspiring story of how Barts Health staff rose to the challenge posed by the second wave.
Charting the trust's response to over an unprecedented fesive period, the publication is dedicated to the memory of those members of the Barts Health family who lost their lives from the coronavirus.
After the first wave in spring 2020, St Bartholomew’s was designated a “green” or Covid-free site to maintain its core cancer and emergency cardiac services.
In the second wave, this focus enabled it to release over 300 members of staff to help manage pressures elsewhere.
For the four weeks from Christmas, some 75 critical care and theatre nurses, about 100 consultants (about half the workforce), another 60 junior doctors, plus other professionals, were redeployed.
Most supported the expansion of critical care at The Royal London, but some also helped run general medical wards at Newham and Whipps Cross.
Meanwhile cancer teams worked doubly hard to keep new and existing patients safe and continue life-saving therapies.
The acute assessment unit – a hotline for cancer patients concerned about symptoms triggered by their treatment – became a 24/7 service, and a partnership with the Physician Response Unit helped treat cancer patients at home.
The heart centre continued to perform emergency cases, despite stretched staffing ratios.
Ward nurses with no previous experience of intensive care were redeployed to look after the sickest patients and those recovering from major procedures.
The centre also cared for the most seriously unwell patients requiring specialist heart and lung support, known as ECMO, and opened additional beds to take patients from across London.
In the same collaborative spirit, cardiologist David Wald created more of his pioneering animations to explain Covid treatments; bilingual colleagues translated screening information into local community languages, and staff introduced a text messaging service to stay in touch with those posted elsewhere.
St Bartholomew’s Hospital chief executive Professor Charles Knight said: “In the face of the greatest public health challenge the NHS has faced in its history, our staff have worked selflessly and tirelessly to treat and care for our patients.
“From those who remained at St Bartholomew’s to help treat our cardiac and cancer patients, to those redeployed to the Covid-19 frontline, this report will serve as a public reminder of how St Bartholomew’s rose to the challenge when the people of London needed us most.”
Picture courtesty of Matthew Andrews