Barts Health hospitals in ‘very high pressure’ phase | Our news

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Barts Health hospitals in ‘very high pressure’ phase

We are treating very high numbers of patients with Covid-19 across our hospitals, and in line with our winter escalation plan we have moved into a ‘very high pressure’ phase and taking steps to keep our patients safe. 

We are opening up more beds for our patients

The bespoke critical care unit at The Royal London Hospital reopened to Covid-19 patients in October and is crucial to the plans we developed with our partners in north east London. We opened up a further ward at The Royal London on 27 December specifically to care for patients with Covid-19. This was a planned decision in line with our escalation plan.

The Royal London to receive the most serious Covid-19 cases

The increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients – many requiring critical care or oxygen therapy – reflect rising infection rates in our boroughs. By working as a group of hospitals we are able to share this burden equitably. So far we managed the impact of local demand on Whipps Cross and Newham by securing regular ambulance diverts to The Royal London. 

From now on we have agreed with the London Ambulance Service that The Royal London will be our main receiving centre for all of the most serious Covid-19 cases, as well as trauma and emergency patients. 

This move will create valuable breathing space at both Whipps Cross Hospital and Newham Hospital, and enable those hospitals to focus on treating less complex or high-risk cases on behalf of the group. The Royal London has already tripled its critical care bed capacity through the new bespoke 15th floor unit, and it makes sense to consolidate its resources on the most-sick patients, especially those requiring respiratory support. 

Less-sick Covid-19 patients, including those on oxygen, will still be treated at Whipps Cross Hospital and Newham Hospital, and the emergency departments there will continue to accept walk-in patients. However, as part of rebalancing the overall workload across the group, for example, Whipps Cross Hospital will be able to take more gynaecological cases, injuries, and urgent surgery that would previously have been done at The Royal London.

NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Centre, Newham, opening at the ExCeL London

We are stepping up our contribution to the national Covid-19 vaccination programme by opening a large-scale vaccination centre for the public in the ExCeL conference centre at Newham. 

This will go live in the week commencing 11 January 2021. It is intended to serve the whole of London, with appointments administered through a national booking system, but we hope it will complement our hospital vaccination hubs and vaccinate some NHS staff too.

We are standing down planned care and some of our other appointments

Like other London providers, and to help us manage the high numbers of patients we are seeing, we have stood down routine planned care and redeployed staff to critical care and Covid wards. This means postponing all elective operations, many outpatient appointments, and some diagnostic tests.

Patients will be contacted directly if their procedures or appointments need to be postponed.

Many of our outpatient appointments are virtual

To reduce the number of people coming into our hospital at this time, we are also converting many of our face-to-face outpatient appointments, due to take place in December and January, to telephone or video consultations. You will be contacted by our teams if this applies to you. 

If you need our care, the NHS is here for you

Our hospitals are open to those who need our care. Please only come to A&E in the case of an emergency and dial 111 for anything else.

If you are asked to attend hospital for an outpatient appointment, it is safe to do so and you should attend as normal.

Please stay safe

Our staff are working incredibly hard to treat patients, but we still need the public to stay safe and wear a face mask, stay socially safe from others and wash your hands regularly.


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