Frontline staff at the Homerton Hospital are being offered counselling after weeks of “intense pressure”.
The mental and physical stresses experienced by all staff during the crisis are now being addressed by a number of agencies supporting people with counselling if they want it, including Hackney talking therapy service Talk Changes and the East London Foundation Trust.
It is understood the hospital is now experiencing a “slight limbo”, with the admission rate for Covid patients down and patients who had been at the top of waiting lists for operations being contacted to come back in, while the “shadow” of a potential second spike remains.
A Homerton Hospital spokesperson said: “A priority is to allow staff that breather to reflect, as people look back at what they’ve been through.
“Everybody recognises this shadow as to whether there will be a second spike at some point. For the hospital, it’s about how we’re going to start putting the bits of the onion back together, as we try to slowly bring things back into place.
“It’s also about allowing staff a bit of a breather, after what has been six weeks of intense pressure. There’s been lots of work going on in supporting staff with counselling and opportunities to talk with experts, to express some of the feelings they’ve built up over the period.”
All frontline staff will be able to access services, including those who are employed through outsourced companies.
Healthcare workers wearing PPE have also been forced to adapt to the physical challenges of working in the often restrictive kit, with masks that pinch the cheeks and tight goggles causing added stress as an obstacle to clear communication with patients or colleagues.
The spokesperson added: “We’ve been bringing other clinicians in to help in intensive therapy units (ITUs), some of whom are doctors working as nursing assistants in an ITU situation, with all staff having to come to terms with that daily trauma of death, and people not making it.
“So we’re doing a lot at the moment during this period of reflection where there’s a bit of a breather to give staff an opportunity to talk to people who will help them through the process.”
The hospital has stressed that, for those in need of emergency treatment, its A&E remains “very much open for business”, after it was reported that admissions numbers had plummeted during the crisis.
While visiting and outpatients restrictions remain in place, the hospital urges anyone feeling unwell and in need of emergency treatment to call an ambulance to receive treatment in A&E.
Over 130 patients have now died at the hospital, while 270 patients confirmed to have had Covid have been discharged.
There are currently 19 Covid patients in treatment, with eight patients in ITU; this stands in comparison to the first weeks in April when 117 Covid patients were being seen at the Homerton, with 30 of those cases critical.
It is understood that the numbers at the Homerton came down from around 30 patients at the start of the month, dipping below 20 cases for a couple of days, but then went back up to around 20 for the past couple of weeks.