Ominous warning that Covid could overcome London hospitals


Senior doctors claim that thousands of people suffering from Covid will leave their capital without beds

According to the chief health officer for the capital, London’s hospitals could soon be swamped by Covid-19, leaving them nearly 5,500 beds short to deal with the flood of cases, in a Zoom call with senior doctors at the city’s NHS hospitals on Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Vin Diwakar said in his briefing that by January 19, the sheer number of people seriously ill with covid could leave the capital’s hospitals short of 1,932 to 5,422 beds. By then, hospitals will face a severe bed shortage, even if London’s Nightingale Hospital reopens, they manage to increase their supply of beds, and demand restriction measures – such as the recent shutdown that started this week, faced by the Third England – prove successful. His briefing, received and published by the Health Service Journal, raises the specter that in less than two weeks, the NHS in London will not be able to treat thousands of patients requiring critical treatment. There have recently been significant problems in London hospitals. In Romford, northeast London, video footage shows a large number of ambulances queuing outside Queen’s Hospital. And the University College Hospital chief executive said last week that it is increasingly becoming a covid-only hospital, reacting to the fact that it now has more covid patients than it did in the first wave in April by converting operating rooms, recovery rooms, and stroke units into improvised intensive care units. Diwakar’s document models how, given the relentless growth of covid disease, demand for general and acute hospital beds and critical care beds will increase between now and Jan. 19. 417 critical care beds in the “best” scenario will leave London short by then. In the meantime, that’s based on demand for such beds being 4% per day. It is acknowledged, however, that demand was higher at 4.8 percent on Tuesday, January 5. Under the “average” growth scenario, London will have a deficit of 665 such beds based on a 5 percent daily rise in demand.

“And hospitals will be 945 beds short of critical care beds, also known as intensive care beds, in the “worst” scenario, which calls for a 6 percent rise. These are beds usually occupied by individuals who are very unwell, some of whom are waiting for surgery or recovering from it. Hospitals are short of 1,515 beds in the “best” scenario. In the “average” scenario, that rises to 2,964.

“And under the “worse” scenario, it achieves a significant shortage of 4,477 beds. London has 15,600 general and acute beds, Diwakar said. Hospitals will face a substantial shortage of such beds, also taking into account 1,080 “step-down” beds discovered for patients about to be discharged, some of which could be at Nightingale in the capital’s Docklands ExCel conference center; specialist hospitals that will take in another 120 patients; and private hospitals that will take in another 50 patients. Dr. Diwakar said in a statement to HSJ, “Hospitals in London are coming under significant pressure from high Covid-19 infection rates, which is why they have opened hundreds of surge critical care beds and plan to open more, including opening London Nightingale. “HSJ said the briefing should give medical directors confidence to consider what measures they might take to reduce the looming gap. The briefing said, “Options put into play include significantly reducing the number of non-Covid patients by canceling more elective procedures and/or sending these patients to other regions or to private providers in the capital or elsewhere,” but that could be difficult given the already small number of beds available in other parts of England and the sharp rise in patients with Covid.


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