NHS trust report reveals details of COVID outbreaks at Queen’s and King George Hospitals

Almost 60 patients and more than 40 staff tested positive for COVID after five outbreaks at King George Hospital in Ilford over the course of a month.

In the worst of these outbreaks, spotted on September 10, a total of 27 patients are thought to have contracted the virus.

During October, Queen’s Hospital in Romford, run by the same NHS trust, saw 31 patients and six staff test positive following four outbreaks in less than two weeks.

The figures were revealed in a report for a board meeting of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs both hospitals, yesterday (November 25).

A graph showed that, during one week in late October, almost 40 people are thought to have caught COVID across the two hospitals, although rates of in-hospital infection have fallen since.

The trust’s chief executive Tony Chambers told the board: “What we are finding is that the prevalence of the virus in our three boroughs is translating into outbreaks in our hospitals.

“We test every patient when they are admitted. If they are not showing symptoms, we care for them in shared ward areas until the results come through.

“When outbreaks happen, it can result in the temporary loss of beds, while cleaning takes place, and this has an impact on the movement of patients out of the Emergency Department and onto the wards.”

He explained the trust has introduced “plastic curtains between beds” and is “redoubling” efforts to ensure staff “rigorously” adhere to rules on handwashing, PPE, masks and social distancing.

BHRUT apologised in late September after a coronavirus outbreak from an asymptomatic patient spread the virus to three uninfected people.

The patient was being cared for in a shared ward area while awaiting their test result, which came back positive.

The report noted COVID tests were taking as long as four days because the “majority of the trust’s testing was reliant” on neighbouring Barts Health NHS Trust.

The trust also has two different cleaning contractors, which it notes “could result in variability practices at the two hospital sites”.

From the start of the pandemic to October 30, 105 patients are certain to have caught the virus in the trust’s hospitals, having tested positive more than two weeks after being admitted.

This figure rises to almost 250 patients when patients who probably caught COVID in the hospital, but may have had a long incubation period, are also included.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service first asked for information about how many patients caught COVID at King George Hospital on October 28.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter