London Hospital Declares ‘Critical Incident’ over Coronavirus, Not Enough Spaces for Patients

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07: A doctor at the Accident and Emergency department of the recently opened Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 7, 2011 in Birmingham, England. The new Queen Elizabeth Hospital accommodates 1,213 beds and 30 operating theatres. The super hospital has a 100-bed intensive care unit - …
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Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, Greater London, has declared a “critical incident” because it does not have enough space in its critical care unit due to an influx of coronavirus patients.

London North West University Healthcare Trust, which runs the hospital, sent a message to staff on Thursday night stating that they had “declared a ‘critical incident’ in relation to our critical care capacity at Northwick Park Hospital. This is due to an increasing number of patients with Covid-19.”

“This means that we currently do not have enough space for patients requiring critical care. As part of our system resilience plans, we have contacted our partners in the North West London sector this evening to assist with the safe transfer of patients off of the Northwick Park site,” said the message, which was seen by Health Service Journal (HSJ) and reported on Friday.

The report comes as another London NHS hospital trust — Lewisham and Greenwich — was reported to be turning away coronavirus patients and referring them to other local hospitals because they did not have the capacity to treat them themselves.

“We’re running out of beds and running out of space. Some patients with Covid-19 are being shipped to other trusts,” a Lewisham and Greenwich hospital trust source told The Telegraph on Thursday, saying that, for example, on Tuesday when five patients needed critical care only one could be admitted, with the others sent to neighbouring facilities.

A senior medical professional at another London hospital trust told HSJ: “Given we’re in the low foothills of this virus, this is f***ing petrifying.”

“I was in denial about the seriousness of this virus a couple of weeks ago, but not anymore,” he added.

The senior director also told the medical news outlet that “trusts in outer London seem to be hit much worse at the moment, probably about two weeks ahead of the rest of the country. Barnet, Lewisham and Greenwich, Epsom and St Helier, North Middlesex and Hillingdon are all struggling.”

Evoking the medical crisis hitting Italy, which has now more reported deaths due to the Chinese coronavirus than China, the senior director said: “The thing people aren’t really talking about yet is that we are going to have to quickly agree some clinical thresholds for admissions to intensive care.

“This is what the Italians have had to do, and whether it’s set at 60 or whatever, we are going to have to do something similar. There’s no way we’re going to be able to scale up to the level we need otherwise.”

Reports from last week revealed doctors in Italy saying that they are rationing care to older coronavirus patients.

Dr Marcello Natali, 57, also died of coronavirus after working with patients without gloves because his hospital in Codogno had run out. He had said in a final interview: “We weren’t prepared for the coronavirus. As doctors of the post antibiotic era, we grew up thinking that a pill against everything was enough.”

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