How a London hospital is once again at the Covid epicentre

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

Northwick Park Hospital finds itself back at the Covid epicentre as staff deal with an surging number of coronavirus patients

During the peak of the pandemic back in March last year, the hospital in north London was one of the hardest hit and a critical incident had to be declared to divert ambulances to surrounding hospitals.

It now faces that all too familiar reality – with the hospital edging towards full capacity – as Covid cases increase by nearly 70% in just 10 days in the capital.

Ganesh Suntharalingam, critical care lead consultant, told ITV News: “This is now coming at us with a speed and ferocity we haven’t seen since March and April, so very large numbers coming into the hospital, over 400 patients on the wards.

“We are worried, these numbers show no signs of falling, so I think we’re going to come under increasing strain, and we will be finding ways to cope, we have plans but we are having to activate plans we haven’t used since right in the early days of spring.”

Debbie van der Velden, critical care matron, warned there’s only a finite number of critical care nurses available and they’ve had to be drafted in from different areas of the hospital.

“I’m worried, I’m worried for everybody, worried for the general public and worried for my team…and myself,” she said.

Areas in the intensive care unit will have to be made into red zones – for the highest risk patients – the first time this will have to be done since April.

The number of Covid patients filling up beds is increasing at a fast rate, but there are plans in place if the ICU does run out of space.

Trish Mukherjee, critical care lead nurse, said: “I think we’re prepared, for the next two weeks, I don’t feel as if were not in control of things, we are.

“We’ve got a better way of managing it, and I think the main thing for me is that we’re now communicating with other organisations so we can share the workload, if we do come under pressure, we do have colleagues who can help support us, other hospitals can take patients.”