COVID death toll in the hundreds over Christmas period in east London hospitals

Hundreds of COVID patients died in east London hospitals over the two-week Christmas period, while more than 1,000 east London residents tested positive on Monday.

From December 21 last year to January 3, a total of 278 deaths were confirmed by the two NHS trusts which run seven hospitals in north-east London.

King George Hospital in Ilford and Queen’s Hospital in Romford, both run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), saw 143 patients die from COVID.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs Whipps Cross in Leytonstone and four inner-east London hospitals, saw 135 patients die.

On Christmas day itself, 18 patients died at east London hospitals after contracting the virus, more than a quarter of the 65 that died on that day in London overall.

The situation at BHRUT is now so dire that the trust postponed all non-urgent care on December 21, switching to virtual appointments wherever possible.

Urgent cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, will still continue but it is not known when other treatment will resume.

Over the course of December, the number of beds occupied by COVID patients at the two hospitals rose from 215 to 356 on December 29 – more than a quarter of the total capacity.

The number of people dying across London every day is creeping close to 100, according to the most recent accurate data, around half the number at the peak of the first wave in April.

On January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict national lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, one day after telling parents to send children to school.

On the same day, 1,295 new cases of COVID were discovered across three east London boroughs.

In Redbridge, 470 residents tested positive, compared to 431 in Havering and 394 in Waltham Forest.

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter