Critical care: looking back to move forwards   | Our news

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Critical care: looking back to move forwards  

This time last year we worked tirelessly to transform the way we deliver critical care at Newham Hospital, in order to meet the challenges presented by Covid-19. 

With the London Borough of Newham badly hit by the pandemic, it meant a lot of patients were very sick and required ventilation on an intensive care unit (ICU).  

As a hospital, we had to adapt and meet this challenge. We did this by increasing bed numbers and redeploying staff so we could continue to offer high-quality care to our patients. Looking at our critical care stats shows just how much adaptation and flex was required.  

  • We admitted 734 patients to critical care in the last year 
    - That’s 54% higher than we admitted the year before. We also saw a 94% increase in the Level 3 bed days (patients requiring the higest level of care)

  • We more than doubled our number of critical care beds 
    - Starting at 8 beds we increased to 16 during the first wave of the pandemic and expanded again to 21 beds in the second wave.  

  • We redeployed 40 staff to our critical care team. 
    - Those redeployed came from all areas of the hospital, including theatre staff.

  • We doubled our maximum supply of oxygen.  
    - During the first peak we had a maximum supply of 1,500 litres of oxygen per minute. This increased to 3,000 litres of oxygen per minute in September.  

Managing this feat has not just been incredible, but incredulous, and achieving it is a concept many of us would have found difficult to believe possible one year ago. But achieve it we did, thanks in large part to staff working collaboratively like never before. It’s something all staff at the hospital should be proud of.  

We are now, for the most part, through the worst of the pandemic and starting to think about how we resume our usual services and look ahead to our new normal. This includes looking at how we will deliver critical care in our hospital and across the trust, at a less intense level than the last year. Doing this will be complex and requires careful handling - especially as we factor in extra time for staff recuperation.    

The challenge for us now is to look ahead whilst not forgetting what lies behind us. The NHS has been advised there may be a third wave of Covid-19. It’s hoped that the impact of any future wave on critical care teams will be much smaller, partly thanks to the successful vaccination programme. Nevertheless, we must be ready adapt and evolve for whatever comes, remembering to use lessons we have learned over this last year.  

Our thoughts are with people from across the world that continue to deal with the effects of Covid-19. If you are feeling affected by this, including the current situation in India, we have a range of support available to you. 

Picture: Staff on Stratford Ward at Newham Hospital, who provided care to large numbers of Level 2 patients throughout the pandemic.

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