Medics in the capital said a shortage of beds meant hospitals were implementing emergency guidelines – amid fears the NHS is reaching a point where it “simply won’t be able to cope”.
A nurse works on a patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London[/caption]
Dr Katharina Hauck, from the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London, told the Daily Mail: “Hospitals in London are overwhelmed, which is a dangerous situation for all patients requiring urgent care…
Mr Khan said the NHS is “on the cusp of being overwhelmed” with more than 7,000 Covid patients in London hospitals — almost 2,000 more than the first peak last April.
Deputy sister at University College Hospital Ashleigh Shillingford told the BBC: “We are so stretched we have to prioritise, and prioritising care is not the NHS I grew up in. We shouldn’t have to choose what patient gets what care first.”
Ambulances queue outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London on January 5[/caption]
And there are fears that the capital may still be two weeks away from the peak – with hospitals potentially left short of 5,500 beds needed to cope with the explosion in cases.
The briefing, seen by the Health Service Journal, says that under the “best” case scenario the capital will be short of 417 critical care beds. The “worst” case scenario could see hospitals have 945 too few beds.
He told the Mail: “The NHS has repeatedly instructed staff that no patient who could benefit from treatment should be denied it and, thanks to this surge capacity and by hospitals working together across the capital, that has not happened.”
Ministers fear that Brits are not obeying the rules in the same way as the first lockdown of March last year, which saw a high level of public compliance.
Experts today labelled the lockdown “too lax” amid fears that the infection rate would remain high if Brits continue to flout the rules.
Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It is definitely too lax, because if you think about it and compare ourselves with March, what do we have now?
“We have the winter season and the virus survives longer in the cold, plus people spend more time indoors and we know aerosol transmission, which happens indoors, is a very big source of transmission for this virus.
“And secondly we have this new variant which is 50-70% more infectious. You put those two things together, alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter rather than less strict lockdown than we had back in March.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson today pleaded with Brits to stay at home, saying: “I know the last year has taken its toll — but your compliance is now more vital than ever.”
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