Treatments postponed as staff get Covid after London hospital party

·2-min read

Patients had their treatments postponed when a number of staff at London’s biggest hospital were diagnosed with Covid after attending a Christmas party, the Standard can reveal.

At least six health professionals at the Royal London hospital, in Whitechapel, tested positive after attending the interventional radiology department’s party last Friday at the Tower Hotel, beside Tower Bridge. Other team members had to go into isolation.

A number of patients had non-emergency procedures cancelled as a result, though emergencies continued to be seen. The majority of appointments were rescheduled for later this week.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London, has now advised all staff not to hold Christmas parties.

Bosses admit it cannot be proved that the infections were contracted at the event. Attendees are believed to have said they were socially distanced and wore masks when not dining.

The three-course meal, which cost staff £64 a head, was attended by about 100 radiologists, nurses, radiographers, anaesthetists and operating department practitioners. When attendees started to go down with Covid, staff were ordered to get tested immediately. They were told: “Please can all those who attended the Christmas party on Friday leave work, even if they have negative lateral flow or rapid antigen tests and should attend NHS Test and Trace for a PCR test (getting a negative result prior to returning to work).”

Interventional radiology involves a variety of scanning methods used to assist with minimally invasive procedures. These include insertion of stents, pacemakers and biopsies.

Barts Health said: “A small number of routine operations at the Royal London hospital this week were rescheduled after around a half a dozen staff tested positive for Covid-19. Emergency care continued as normal and all those who attended the event were asked to take a test. We have now advised our staff against holding work social gatherings.”

The trust, which also runs St Bartholomew’s, Newham and Whipps Cross, is treating almost 150 patients with Covid, of which about a fifth are in critical care or on enhanced oxygen.

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