The Homerton Hospital’s children’s ward, Starlight, has been converted to receive adult Covid-19 patients.
The hospital emphasised that children’s A&E remains fully operational, though kids who need to be admitted to hospital for longer than 12 hours will now be transferred to the Royal London.
Starlight, which in normal times has 15 beds with treatment rooms and play facilities reserved for children up to the age of 16, will now allow the hospital greater flexibility in managing its capacity for patients with Covid, as well as ensuring a more effective use of oxygen supplies throughout the building.
A spokesperson for the Homerton said: “Every death is a tragedy for a family, but it has been a slow increase in deaths within the hospital. We are seeing a slight tailing off of admissions at the moment, which reflects the situation across the whole of London.
“Every hospital has done what we’ve done, which is clear the decks for Covid, and it means the most urgent cases are being dealt with.
“Staff continue to pull together. We’ve had staff who usually work in other areas, who have come over and are part of the main ward teams within the hospital, helping to support the staff further up the line on critical care.”
Starlight, which opened in the late 1990s, around ten years later than the main hospital building itself, has a “more modern” approach, according to the spokesperson, with a “very effective” oxygen supply.
Use of oxygen has come under unprecedented pressure during the pandemic, with Watford General forced to tell the public to keep away to prevent their own systems from failing, and Barts NHS Trust instructing its own hospitals to place limits on how much is administered to patients for their safety.
It is understood that the Homerton has been seeing fewer children presenting as inpatients due to the change in the spring weather, with all routine operations also cancelled.
The hospital also praised the “fantastic response” from local schools and academies, as well as high speed rail workers at St Pancras, who have donated goggles and visors after the Homerton found itself running short ten days ago.
As at 14 April, 86 people had died at the Homerton from Covid-19.
EDIT: This article was updated at 17:25 on 16 April.