Up to 15 A&E staff 'test positive for Covid following Christmas party'

Up to 15 A&E staff at West Middlesex Hospital ‘are forced to self isolate after testing positive for Covid following Christmas party’

  • Staff at West Middlesex Hospital had a festive party at the beginning of this week
  • Up to 15 have since been forced to call in sick after testing positive for Covid-19
  • Chief Executive Lesley Watts had warned staff not to hold any Christmas parties
  • Earlier this week, she said ‘it is clear’ staff attended Christmas parties together 
  • A source said the hospital is considering declaring it a major incident 

An angry hospital boss has slammed accident and emergency staff for holding a Christmas party which forced many in the department to go sick after testing positive for Covid.

Despite explicit warnings from Chief Executive Lesley Watts, hard-pressed doctors and nurses at the West Middlesex Hospital in Hounslow decided to have a festive bash at the beginning of this week.

However, around 15 of the revellers, who are believed to include both doctors and nurses from the department, are understood to have been forced to call in sick after testing positive for Covid-19.

In a letter sent to her staff this week, Chief Executive Lesley Watts said: ‘In the last few days, it is clear that a number of staff have attended Christmas parties together, despite my ask of you not to do so.

‘One group in particular sought permission from their line manager and were advised not to continue with their event.

‘Despite being advised to cancel, we know that this group of staff chose to go ahead and many have now tested positive (for Covid).

‘This is causing a significant challenge for their colleagues and impacting safe staffing over the holiday period.’

Chief Executive Lesley Watts had warned staff at West Middlesex Hospital not to hold a Christmas party but, this week, wrote to staff saying: ‘it is clear that a number of staff have attended Christmas parties together, despite my ask of you not to do so’

Her letter added: ‘This act sadly puts even more pressure onto others who may have to work to cover the shifts for colleagues and it certainly doesn’t speak to our intention to put patients first or support each other.

‘I am asking you once again not to attend parties or social gatherings as groups from the same department.

‘I am reminding you that you should seek advice from your immediate line manager if in doubt.’

The outbreak of the virus among the A&E staff is so serious that, according to sources, the hospital is considering declaring it a major incident, due to the number of people having to self isolate.

The amount of sickness is understood to have left the department, which serves a bustling part of west London, critically short of staff at one of the busiest times of the year.

A source who works closely with the department said today: ‘The department has been forced to declare a major incident because they are so short of staff, they need about 20 people to run the department for each shift.

‘They are on a skeleton staff at the moment and the hospital administrators have offered staff an overtime bonus of £75 for each shift they do over Christmas, which makes it nearly triple pay.

‘However the well staff are not taking it because they have been run ragged already and they don’t want to come in on their only rest day after a week of 12-hour shifts.’

Bosses at the hospital, which serves Heathrow Airport as well as Twickenham stadium, are reportedly considering docking ten days from the annual leave allocation for the accident and emergency staff in isolation, in response to them ignoring the ‘no parties’ warning. 

Around 15 members of staff, who are believed to include both doctors and nurses from the A&E department at West Middlesex Hospital (pictured), are understood to have been forced to call in sick after testing positive for Covid-19 (file picture)

It was understood that there was significant discomfort among the staff at the West Middlesex Hospital after management sought to tell them what they could do in their private time.

The source added: ‘I do understand their frustrations, they have worked so hard and they don’t want to be told what to do in their time off by the management.

‘However, it is a shame that what they did has led to less protection for the public.’

The hospital incident comes just days after dozens of ambulance workers who attended a Christmas party at Trinity Park in Ipswich, Suffolk, tested positive for Covid-19, leaving the East of England Ambulance Service struggling to fill their shifts.

A source confirmed that there had been at least eight cases following that party, with as much as a third of the area’s staff reportedly off sick due to coronavirus.

MailOnline approached the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Hospital Trust, which operates the West Middlesex Hospital, for comment.

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