NHS intensive care wards are busier than this time last year despite 700 extra beds as medics warn they are in ‘disaster mode’ with official data showing critical care was at or close to 100% in 13 out of 18 London hospital trusts over Christmas
NHS intensive care wards are busier than they were this time last year even though there are over 700 extra beds, official figures show.
As the pressure of the second wave of coronavirus keeps growing, with many patients those who caught Covid over the Christmas break, increasing numbers of hospitals are declaring they’re in crisis, particularly in London and Essex.
NHS England data shows that, in the last week of December, there were 743 more intensive care beds available than in the same week of 2019 – 4,394 compared to 3,651.
But in the same week there were, on average, 828 more patients in critical care, suggesting the strain of Covid-19 is bigger than hospitals had prepared for.
Many of the extra beds are in London – 253 of them – but even this hasn’t been enough to stave off the surge in coronavirus patients.
Data showed that over the Christmas week, two hospitals’ ICU wards were 100 per cent full, and another 10 out of 18 were more than 90 per cent full or had fewer than three beds spare.
Grim reports have emerged from the capital in recent days, with some of the biggest hospitals in the country being forced to treat Covid-19 patients in ambulances outside or dismantling wards to make space for more intensive care patients.
Although the city has a huge Nightingale Hospital on standby at the Excel Centre, nursing unions say there aren’t enough staff to man it and equipment has been removed since it was put on standby in the summer.
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