Hospitals in Covid donation plea ahead of Omicron Christmas

Links available on charity websites

Thursday, 23rd December 2021 — By Tom Foot

Whittington pic works

The Whittington Hospital

HOSPITALS are appealing for cash donations to help staff who have been plunged back onto the frontline of the Covid crisis.

NHS heroes were this week facing their own nightmare before Christmas as the rapid-spreading Omicron variant led to positive tests piling up and more people needing serious medical treatment.

As the virus swept through the capital, the three main hospitals that cater for patients from Camden were facing the latest tidal wave – working marathon shifts and having to cover for colleagues who themselves are being forced to isolate.

The added pressure on NHS resources means planned hospital appointments and referrals could be delayed.

The Whittington in Highgate, the Royal Free in Hampstead and UCLH in Euston are now all asking the public to make donations to make life easier for those trying to lead the medical fightback against Omicron.

Michelle Johnson, the Whittington Hospital’s chief nurse, said: “When the pandemic was at its worst, we benefited from the inspiring generosity of our community.

“We couldn’t have got through such difficult times without them. But the pandemic isn’t over. Winter is just beginning, and our staff are already working incredibly hard to treat those people who are acutely unwell and those with Covid-19 who need our care as well as trying to treat those waiting for planned procedures as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Whittington is the worst affected hospital in London – posting an 11 per cent rise in beds occupied by Covid patients on last week’s figure. Other hospitals are expected to see similar rises over the holiday period.

Donations will pay for extra refreshments, self-care gifts and even help from a clinical psychologist; some staff needed the latter after seeing the trauma of the crisis first-hand.

Prime minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet colleagues have all suggested further restrictions will come into force at some stage in the coming days or weeks – potentially very swiftly after Christmas, although the possibilities were changing quickly as the CNJ went to press.

This would be a bid to slow the virus’s spread – and buy some time to get more booster jabs administered.

Hospitality venues were suffering from cancelled bookings and the loss of huge chunks of their Christmas trade as customers followed advice to prioritise their social plans.

If anybody tests positive now, they face Christmas and New Year in isolation.

Mr Johnson, however, did not ban parties in December. Events like the darts championships at Alexandra Palace have continued with a large indoor crowd.

At UCLH, more than £315,000 has already been raised in donations including from more than £4,000 in memory of Madhukumar Jivanlal Thanki, who died of Covid at the hospital earlier this year.

In the fundraiser for her father, daughter Nita McEvoy said: “My dad who had no underlying health conditions, who was careful, slim, active and still had not yet retired, suddenly got struck down by the horrible coronavirus.

“He fought for his life for four weeks in intensive care but his lungs were completely hijacked and exhausted by the virus.”

The UCLH Charity said: “The last few months of 2021 were always going to be a challenge for the NHS. And now the Omicron variant. With news changing day by day, hour by hour, one thing will remain – the dedication, compassion and kindness of staff at UCLH who will continue to do what they do best, provide the best possible care to those who need them.

“After 18 months of working flat out, in the toughest conditions any of us have ever known, UCLH staff need your support. Every donation, and message of support, makes a difference.”

The Royal Free’s “breaking point” appeal, launched last month, has raised an astonishing £588,000 in just a few weeks.

Its appeal statement said: “Covid-19 has left the NHS grappling with a perfect storm, leaving staff and patients at Breaking Point… We know it’s going to take time and effort for the NHS to stabilise and recover.”

The Royal Free Charity added: “Charity and philanthropy have long played a vibrant role in the health service.

“It’s a proud tradition that, for the Royal Free Hospital, goes back as far as the 19th century when founder William Marsden foreshadowed the introduction of the NHS by setting up a hospital free at the point of use.”

You can find links to donate to the hospitals on their charities’ websites.

Related Articles