‘Perfect storm’ of more Covid, increased A&E demand and staff burnout feared by London hospital chief
Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said its hospitals – which include St Mary’s and Charing Cross – and others in the capital were struggling with A&E figures normally seen only in winter.
At the end of July, Imperial had 1,464 patients waiting for more than a year for elective treatment or surgery. Before the pandemic, there were fewer than 10. Across London, more than 800,000 patients are awaiting hospital treatment.
Professor Orchard said staff are exhausted and some hospital services should be postponed to help them cope with new cases of Covid.
“If all of this turns out in a perfect storm, we will not be able to continue our elective program the way we would like to do,” he said. “We have to be aware of this.
“This is a concern, given the use of urgent and emergency care routes. Like most of the other trusts in London, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people arriving at ERs.
“What we’re trying to do is manage this demand for urgent and emergency care and try to make sure we catch up with the backlog.”
Imperial Oil hospitals are already limiting patients to a single visitor for just one hour a day. Professor Orchard said the restrictions should remain in place this winter to prevent the spread of the infection.
The flow of A&E patients continues to be hampered by the need to segregate positive cases for Covid at the front door and treat them in isolation. Professor Orchard said some people seeking A&E help “probably don’t need to be in an emergency. [the emergency department]”.
The plan is one of 40 new hospitals nationally pledged by 2030. Imperial bosses fear parts of St Mary’s will deteriorate beyond repair in six to seven years and hope to begin part of the redevelopment beforehand. 2030, if funding can be obtained.
The plan confirms Paddington as the “only viable location” for the redevelopment of St Mary’s. The new hospital would have 840 beds, likely spread across three main buildings, and cost between £ 1.2bn and £ 1.7bn, after factoring in proceeds from the sale of excess land.
Professor Orchard said: ‘The trust has the greatest backlog maintenance responsibility of any NHS organization and, as our staff and patients are well aware, the condition of our facilities, many of which predate the NHS. itself, it is increasingly difficult to provide quality care.
“We believe we have made the most of the redevelopment of St Mary’s Hospital to ensure that we can continue our legacy of research, innovation, safe and high quality care.”