Staff stayed with dying covid patients at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney when the pandemic meant visitors were not able to be with them at their last moments, a senior doctor said.
Dr Isabella Harrod said a review of the 379 people who died due to covid at the hospital between April 2020 and March 2021 showed very clearly the impact of the first and second wave of the pandemic.
Staff looked after 1,352 Covid patients during the first year of the pandemic.
Dr Harrod said staff “went the extra mile” to be with seriously ill patients as the strict rules meant loved ones could not be with them at their final moments.
Overall staff have cared for 1,605 people with covid, including 125 who were treated in intensive care.
According to the latest data which looked at infections at the Hackney hospital last year, January saw the highest number of deaths when 159 people passed away, with 103 deaths in April 2020 after the first national lockdown was announced.
Dr Harrod said: “Over the past year there has been an increased focus on clear communication with families who were often unable to visit the ward.”
She said staff on wards and intensive care gave families frequent updates as they were unable to visit because of covid restrictions.
“The important role of this was recognised and many staff went the extra mile to provide these updates and also spend time with dying patients who could not receive visitors,” she explained.
“Some visitors were allowed in on compassionate grounds at the end of life, whilst adhering to strict infection control guidance,” said Dr Harrod.
The majority of covid deaths were amongst older patients.
The highest number of deaths were amongst patients aged between 75 to 84, followed by patients aged 85 or more and then people aged 65 to 74. There were only ten people under 45 who died in the first and second waves of the virus.
The hospital held serious incident reviews into the deaths of any patients who may have contracted covid there
Between April 2020 and March 2021 the hospital had 1,523 positive covid cases and 125 patients were treated in intensive care.
January this year saw the highest number of cases in a month – with 527 patients with covid, 45 of them in intensive care.
This was an increase of 163 inpatients on the previous month, when 36 patients were treated in intensive care and 364 people were cared for overall.
April 2020 saw the third highest number of admissions with 211 patients, including 19 in ICU.
Eighty-two patients contracted the virus in the hospital, accounting for 5.1 per cent of cases. Eighteen of them died.
According to hospitals statistics, there was a peak in patients getting covid there between November and January.
There were no outbreaks during the first wave, but there were ten outbreaks in the wards during the second wave from November 2020 to February 2021 and seven staff outbreaks.
Ten patients died as a result of the outbreaks, prompting a review and learning report.
The virus also hit staff with 2,267 off sick over the year with the highest number in April 2020 when 257 staff were off sick. December saw 157 staff with covid and 263 had to self isolate in December after they were in contact with someone with the virus.