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Coronavirus: Routine NHS admissions to resume at Royal London by opening separate Covid-19 isolation wards

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 19 May 2020

Routine operations resuming at Royal London with Covid-19 treatment now being isolated. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

Routine operations resuming at Royal London with Covid-19 treatment now being isolated. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

Barts Trust

Routine hospital admissions are to return at the Royal London, which is now opening separate isolation wards for seriously-ill Covid-19 patients with 176 extra critical care beds.

One of six new Covid isolation wards specially opened at the Royal London Hospital. Picture: Barts NHS TrustOne of six new Covid isolation wards specially opened at the Royal London Hospital. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

The new isolation wards aim to relieve pressure elsewhere across east London where there are fewer “critical care” beds, such as Newham and Whipps Cross hospitals which are also run by Barts NHS Health Trust along with St Bartholemew’s in the City.

It means the hospitals can resume routine NHS surgery and other treatment.

Patients at the Royal London come mainly from what Barts Trust describes as “one of the most highly deprived, densely-urbanised parts of the country” with the highest rates of Covid-19.

“They deserve the best critical care services the NHS can provide,” the trust’s chief executive Alwen Williams said. “These new Covid wards will be used for many years, both during this pandemic and to meet other health needs of our local population.”

Main tower of Royal London where new Covid isolation wards are to open on the 14th and 15th floors. Picture: Mike BrookeMain tower of Royal London where new Covid isolation wards are to open on the 14th and 15th floors. Picture: Mike Brooke

The new wards are being created on the dormant 14th and 15th floors of the main tower block which had been empty since the NHS complex in Whitechapel opened in 2012.

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The £24million budget for the new wards is part of the NHS long-term response to coronavirus across London.

Key construction crews from Wates and its suppliers fitted out the empty shell in less than five weeks.

Scenes like this to return soon as Royal London gets back to routine NHS admissions. Picture: Barts NHS TrustScenes like this to return soon as Royal London gets back to routine NHS admissions. Picture: Barts NHS Trust

They have created six wards with good visibility of patients to comply with latest guidance for treating Covid-19.

The hospital’s chief executive Jackie Sullivan said: “This allows us to separate Covid and non-Covid patients.

“It also encourages those who need treatment but have not been able to attend hospital in recent weeks to come back for essential surgery or care.”

Bart’s trust, which currently has 145 Covid-19 patients, helped set up the massive Nightingale specialist Covid-19 hospital in the Royal Docks with its 4,000-bed capacity. The chief executive from St Bartholemew’s, Professor Charles Knight, has been seconded to run the Nightingale housed temporarily at the massive ExCel exhibition centre.

Royal London Hospital getting back to routine NHS admissions. Picture: Mike BrookeRoyal London Hospital getting back to routine NHS admissions. Picture: Mike Brooke

But both the Royal London Covid unit and the Nightingale are unlikely to be run at full capacity, with the pandemic having now peaked.


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