verstretched London hospitals are being forced to send critically ill coronavirus patients hundreds of miles away for treatment, it is reported.
The capital’s overwhelmed intensive care units (ICUs) have transferred patients nearly 300 miles away to Newcastle and 167 miles away to Sheffield to receive the right care, according to the Guardian.
NHS England has instructed hospitals in northern England, the Midlands and other lesser-hit areas to open up hundreds of extra ICU beds to patients from the South East, London, and the East, to help the regions cope with rising admissions fuelled by the new “Kent” Covid variant.
In recent days, patients have also been moved 67 miles to Northampton and 125 miles to Birmingham, the paper said.
The Prime Minister told MPs on Wednesday: “If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can’t give you a prediction for that.
“But all I can say is that the risk is very substantial and we have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.”
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At the same time, however, the PHE surveillance report noted that there were more people being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units.
Around one in five major hospital trusts in the country had no spare adult critical care beds on January 10, according to the latest NHS England analysis.
Responding to the Guardian’s reports of long-distance transfers, Dr Claudia Paoloni, president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, said this showed that the NHS was “on the ropes” after years of underfunding.
“Hospitals have already spread intensive care teams more thinly, with nurses juggling three or four seriously ill patients at a time instead of the usual one,” Dr Claudia Paoloni told the paper.
“They have expanded intensive care departments into every available space and redeployed specialist staff to cope.
“The fact that all this is not enough and they are still having to take the extraordinary step of transferring critically ill patients hundreds of miles reflects the unprecedented gravity of the situation facing our NHS.
“No one would consider doing this unless the situation was exceptionally bad, usually because specialist treatment is unavailable or staffed critical care beds had run out.”
— to www.standard.co.uk