Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals adapt quickly to increase capacity
A West London hospital trust has revealed that it was treating nearly 500 coronavirus patients at once on 20 January.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust runs St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, as well as Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.
A report by the trust’s chief executive, Professor Tim Orchard, states, “Our largest number of Covid-19 positive patients to date during this second wave was on 20 January when we were caring for 492 patients who had tested positive for Covid-19…
“One hundred and thirteen of these patients were being cared for in intensive care.
“We currently (as of 25 January) have 476 patients who have tested positive on their current admission, 123 of whom are being cared for in intensive care.”
His report also highlights the staggering transformation hospitals have undergone to accommodate the second wave of Covid patients, by converting wards and redeploying staff to jobs outside of their normal roles.
It said the three hospitals’ total intensive care capacity had been upped to 150 patients, showing just how close the trust came to running out of space. And that 23 wards across the three sites were “set up to provide care for Covid-positive patients”.
To reach that 150 ICU capacity, Professor Orchard said: “We have transformed most of our children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s into an adult unit (while the majority of children’s intensive care is consolidated temporarily at Great Ormond Street Hospital) and created additional intensive care units at each hospital.”
He also states: “Our capacity expansion has relied on almost 1,000 staff being able to take on temporary new roles, for some or all of their time.”
On 26 January, a critical care consultant at the trust, Dr Simon Ashworth, took to Twitter to explain the radical changes made at Hammersmith Hospital to take in more Covid patients.
He said: “We opened an 18-bed ICU at Hammersmith Hospital about 10 days ago – does anyone have any idea what a big deal that is?
“It’s now full of patients with #COVID19… a testament to the professionalism of our staff.
“We have opened five ICUs in the past year… It’s a scary thing to do… but colleagues have identified problems and fixed them…
“But it is hard to put into words how big the challenge is for staff, and how hard they are working… nobody should take them for granted. It’s the people who make an ICU.”
Owen Sheppard – Local Democracy Reporter
January 28, 2021