Covid patients at King George Hospital treated in ambulances and corridors, nurse reveals
- Credit: Archant
People with Covid are being treated in the back of ambulances because there is such little space remaining at King George Hospital in Goodmayes.
Almost every patient seen by the hospital’s accident and emergency department has the virus and many are unable to even sit upright while when being assessed, a member of medical staff has revealed.
She also told how other areas of the hospital, including a children’s ward, have been “taken over by Covid patients”, with some being treated in corridors.
The nurse, who requested to not be named, said: “On one day, we had 20 ambulances with patients parked up outside – it is exactly the same here as at Queen’s [in Romford].
“Medical staff are having to go out there, in PPE, to take blood tests in the back of the vans and every single one of them has Covid.
“Most of the hospital has been taken over by really sick people with the virus – as well as being treated in ambulances, there are people in corridors because we are running out of space for them.”
The stark insight comes as Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George, admitted its oxygen supplies at Queen’s Hospital face “increasing demand”.
The trust is responsible for both hospitals and it is understood the scenes of ambulances backed up outside Queen’s last week have been replicated at King George too.
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“When we had 20 ambulances outside, I only saw one patient who was even able to sit up and they were all short of breath,” the nurse said.
“It can be three hours or more until a bed becomes available so ambulance staff are stuck and not able to go off to other jobs.
“We’re constantly coming face-to-face with Covid patients and you can’t wear the full PPE all the time when walking around, you just have to throw the gloves and apron away and wash your hands.
“I’m not scared anymore because everyone that I deal with has got it [Covid], it’s person after person. I’ve been lucky but a lot of colleagues have caught it and been very ill.”
An ambulance driver in his 40s, who frequently visited KGH, tested positive for coronavirus and died recently, she added.
NHS doctors and nurses are keen to speak out about how their hospitals are being pushed to breaking point by the virus, at a time when outright lies and conspiracy theories are plaguing social media.
Last week, a doctor from Queen's revealed there was no room in the hospital for accepting emergencies and patients were being treated inside the ambulances that brought them.
The hospital has now converted its medical records department into an "ambulance receiving centre" to help cope with the flow of in-patients.
More than 350 Covid patients now occupy beds at Queen's and King George hospitals – more than a quarter of their combined capacity, according to the most recent NHS data.
The number has sky-rocketed from the beginning of December, when 215 beds were being used by coronavirus patient, to 356 at the end of last month when BHRUT admitted “huge pressure” on its resources.
In an open letter to all staff, the trust’s chief executive Tony Chambers said the peak of the second wave was still to come and the two hospitals will continue to see “very sick patients”.
He said: “If you’re on our frontline, you’ve lived it throughout the Christmas period. You’ve also seen a glimpse of your lived experience reported on the television news.
“The aerial footage of Queen’s Hospital captured just one of the many ways we’re caring for our patients, by offering them tea while they are being looked after safely on an ambulance.
"The second wave of the virus doesn’t appear to have reached its peak in hospital admissions and we will continue to see very sick patients entering Queen’s and King George hospitals."
All staff have now been called back, with all annual leave for January cancelled, while the trust is planning to draft in medical students and trainee nurses to help cope with the surge in cases.