More than 350 Covid patients now in beds at Queen's and King George hospitals

Queen's Hospital, Romford. Picture: Ken Mears

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS trust saw hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients rise by two-thirds in December. - Credit: Ken Mears

The number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals in the area grew by two-thirds throughout December, according to the latest NHS data.  

The rate of transmission has showed some signs of slowing over the Christmas period, but data suggests the situation for the Queen’s and King George hospitals is likely to get worse before it gets better.  

The trust made national news just before New Year when ambulances were filmed queuing up outside Queen’s Hospital. It was reported that patients were having to be treated inside the vehicles due to a lack of hospital beds.  

The data 

Havering had become the epicentre of the pandemic in London in November, with the capital’s highest infection rate and a high hospitalisation rate.  

But throughout December, the situation grew even worse.  

On December 1, the trust had 215 beds occupied by Covid-19 patients. By December 15 it was 304.  

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On December 22 the figure hit 323. By then, the hospital had announced that it was postponing all “non-urgent” out-patient appointments and surgeries, saying rocketing coronavirus cases were “placing huge pressures on our resources”. 

“We must focus on treating those patients who need the most urgent care,” a spokesperson said. “The pandemic is continuing to cause immense challenges across north east London.” 

In the following week, NHS data has revealed, the number of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients rose again, hitting 356 on December 29 - more than a quarter of the two hospitals' combined capacity.  

A coronavirus testing site. Picture: PA/Jane Barlow

The latest data showed infection rates were falling slightly in Havering and slowing in Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham - but were still significantly higher than they had been earlier in December. - Credit: PA/Jane Barlow

What next? 

The latest test data published by government shows the transmission of the disease has started to slow in Havering.  

For five consecutive days – from December 25 to 29 – the infection rate was slightly down on the figure a week earlier.  

However, its infection rate remained high on December 29, at 1,122 cases per 100,000 people.  

Meanwhile, the two boroughs’ cases were continuing to rise, albeit more slowly than in the build-up to Christmas.  

Hospitalisations are typically three or four weeks behind infection rates, due to the time it takes for the virus to cause severe illness.  

The last two weeks of verified data show significant increases in all three boroughs’ infection rates.  

Havering’s rose by 20.5 per cent between December 15 and 29. Redbridge’s rose by 61.6pc. Barking and Dagenham’s increased by 70.3pc.  

Hospitalisations would be expected to follow the same trend several weeks later.