THE boss of a hospital forced to close A&E due to a spike in staff coronavirus cases has said some “irresponsible” workers have not been wearing masks.
Sarah Tedford, Hillingdon Hospitals trust chief executive, told staff the outbreak was due to them not wearing PPE and following social distancing rules, as she urged them to stay safe.
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The Guardian reports she sent a concerned message to staff last week saying: “I am told some of you are not wearing appropriate masks and you are not adhering to social distancing. This has resulted in an outbreak on a ward where our staff have contracted Covid-19.
“If you do not follow the guidance, we cannot keep you safe. I don’t like wearing a mask, but it would be irresponsible of me not to do so. Please think very carefully about what you are doing and ask yourselves if you are keeping yourself safe and if you are keeping each other safe.
“This is such a serious matter, and at the moment I’m afraid some of us are not demonstrating the behaviour we should be. If you see someone not adhering to the guidance, please remind them of their responsibilities.”
But some workers have claimed consultants and some junior doctors had been told to remove their masks as they were wearing them “inappropriately”.
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A Hillingdon Hospital spokesperson said: “The vast majority of our staff are maintaining social distancing and it is essential that everyone follows the guidance if we are to provide the safest care to our patients.”
Around 70 NHS workers at the hospital in Boris Johnson’s constituency are in isolation, while ambulances are being diverted from the hospital across the capital.
Between July 2 and July 7 there were 21 new cases of people testing positive for coronavirus in the West London borough.
For the previous week of June 21 to June 28, there was an increase of cases from 2.6 per 100,00 to 5.9 coronaivrus cases per 100,000.
The latest data from Public Health England reported there are currently 1,099 cases of coronavirus in the area at a rate of 360.5 per 100,000.
This figure is still far lower than Leicester where there are 4,036 cases at a rate of 1,136.2 per 100,000.
The number of cases have increased slightly according the same data in 15 areas in London including Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham and Havering.
Ambulances had started to be diverted away from Hillingdon in West London on Tuesday evening and the building was closed to emergency admissions yesterday.
Other departments, including maternity, have remained open.
Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust said in a statement: “An outbreak of Covid-19 was declared on Friday 3 July 2020.
“As of Tuesday 7 July, 70 members of staff are now isolating, a number of whom have tested positive for Covid-19.
“As a result, the Trust has taken the precautionary decision to close Hillingdon Hospital to emergency ambulances and emergency admissions.
“The Trust is managing the outbreak in line with Public Health England guidance.”
Hillingdon is the main hospital serving the Prime Minister’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Ms Tedford said she was treating the outbreak with the “utmost seriousness” and had ordered staff to stay at home and isolate if they had symptoms, the Evening Standard reports.
In a message to staff yesterday, Ms Tedford reportedly said: “A number of our staff in one area of Hillingdon hospital have either tested positive for Covid-19 or are self-isolating as a precaution.
“A number of immediate actions are being taken to limit the spread of the infection, including enhanced cleaning, reviewing infection control procedures, reinforcing hand hygiene and reinforcing social distancing.
“I am treating this situation with the utmost seriousness. As a result, the trust has taken the decision to close Hillingdon hospital to emergency ambulances and emergency admissions. This will be reviewed on a daily basis.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, added: “We are supporting Hillingdon hospital after a number of staff who are now self-isolating tested positive for Covid-19.
“Together with the trust’s management, the local authority public health team and the Joint Biosecurity Centre, PHE’s role is to provide advice on actions that can limit the spread of infection including enhanced cleaning, reviewing infection control practices and reinforcing hand hygiene and social distancing.”
It comes after Mr Johnson sent a video message to staff at the hospital back in May to mark International Nurses’ Day.
He thanked them for their care when he was “idiotic enough to get a shard of coffee pot in my foot”.