Non-urgent appointments postponed at BHRUT due to Covid increase

Queen's Hospital, Romford.

Queen's Hospital in Romford is one of two run by BHRUT. - Credit: Ken Mears

Non-urgent outpatient appointments at Queen's and King George hospitals have been postponed due to the increase in coronavirus cases.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs the two sites, revealed that the changes will be in place from Monday, December 21 until at least Friday, January 11 when they are due to be reviewed.

Wherever possible, the trust intends to hold the appointments virtually so that patients can still receive care without the need to attend hospital. Those affected by the changes are being contacted by BHRUT.

A spokesperson explained: "The impact of the rapidly increasing rates of Covid-19 across our boroughs is placing huge pressures on our resources.

"We must focus on treating those patients who need the most urgent care and have had to take the very difficult decision to postpone our non-urgent services.

"This will allow us to allocate our staff to the areas that need them most. This is particularly important as many of our staff live locally and are absent due to the pandemic, either isolating or ill themselves."

All non-urgent procedures will also be suspended from December 28; however urgent and cancer surgeries will continue, as will chemotherapy. Cancer and urgent diagnostic endoscopies will also continue, and these will all take place at King George Hospital.

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Government figures reveal that, as of Friday, December 18, there were 300 patients across the trust who were in hospital with Covid-19. Of those, 34 required ventilation. 

Rates in the three boroughs continue to be among the highest in the capital, with the most recent figures showing that Havering has 925.4 cases per 100,000 people - the third worst in England.  Redbridge has a rate of 793.5, and Barking and Dagenham close behind with 760.9.

The BHRUT spokesperson added: "We appreciate this is not what any of us were hoping for, however the pandemic is continuing to cause immense challenges across north east London.

"Please rest assured that together with our partners we are doing everything we can together as a system to support each other and minimise the impact on our patients."