Hundreds of temporary staff join East Kent Hospitals during coronavirus pandemic

Nursing students taking on duties in East Kent Hospitals

More than 300 temporary staff members are helping in East Kent Hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.

The number includes more than 100 doctors, nurses, midwifes, pathologists, pharmacists and therapists, as well as more than 60 people who have recently retired.

Some 60 overseas nurses are part of the team after being allowed to join an emergency register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and more than 50 third-year student nurses have given up their student status months before they had to.


They are part of the frontline army working to care for those suffering from coronavirus as the UK infection rate reaches 143,464 of those tested, an increase of 5,386 within 24 hours. There are currently 17,049 people in UK hospitals with coronaviru, down from 17,615 on April 22 and down 10% on last week. There have been 19,506 deaths recorded in hospitals. This data does not include those who may be infected but have not been tested and those who have died outside a hospital setting.

East Kent Hospitals, including QEQM in Margate, WHH in Ashford and the Kent and Canterbury, have recorded 141 deaths attributed to Covid-19 to date.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows deaths that occurred up to April 10 but have been registered up to April 18 which cite Covid-19 as a factor include 20 in Thanet – 15 in hospital, one at home and four in a care home setting. Among those Thanet has lost is QEQM nurse Aimee O’Rourke and Garden Gate Project volunteer Tim Mountford.

 Place of death     
Area nameHomeHospitalCare homeHospiceOther communal establishmentElsewhere
Folkestone and Hythe0102010

As of April 17, 129 people have been discharged from the Trust’s hospitals having sufficiently recovered from Covid-19.

The East Kent Hospitals Trust is one of the largest in the country with five hospitals and community clinics serving a local population of around 695,000 people.

‘Dedication and care’

Peter Orsman, senior nurse in the resourcing team, said: “We welcome each and every new colleague, whether it is someone bringing years of experience who has temporarily turned their back on retirement, or whether it is a student nurse at the start of their career but keen to step forward and help.

“Our staff continue to show the same dedication and care for our patients and these new team members will give them a much-needed boost as they continue their work across the wards and departments of the Trust.”

The student nurses will be known as aspirant nurses under a new Government scheme and will be joined in June by second-year students, classed as clinical support workers.

Mr Orsman paid tribute to colleagues in the resourcing team, as well as those in workforce development, education and training, who had risen to the challenge of welcoming so many new starters at the same time.

He said: “It has been a mammoth task, but the teams have adapted very quickly to carry out the necessary assessments to make sure everyone joining us is safe and prepared for the challenges ahead.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has joined us – including the ever-increasing army of volunteers – for stepping up and to help us to continue to deliver great care in difficult circumstances.

“They really will help make the lives of both patients and staff that little bit easier.”

Kent and Medway

Hospitals across Kent and Medway have increased the number of specialist beds available to support patients experiencing the most serious reactions to Covid-19.

Hospitals are caring for just over 145 patients in specialist ventilation and ‘oxygen plus’ beds, and there are around 160 more of these beds available if needed.

There are 2,959 confirmed positive tests in Kent and 557 in Medway. There have been 430 deaths across  Kent & Medway Hospital Trusts


The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days