The NHS intensive care units are busier than they were at this time last year, despite 700 extra beds, as medics warn that they are in “disaster mode”. Official data shows that critical care was at or near 100% over Christmas in 13 of 18 London hospital trusts
- Data from NHS England shows that demand for critical care exceeds the number of extra beds
- In London last week three-quarters of the intensive care units were full or almost full
- Nationwide there were an average of 743 additional beds in the intensive care unit, but 828 additional patients
The NHS intensive care units are busier than last year at this time, although there are over 700 extra beds, according to official figures.
As the pressure of the second wave of coronavirus continues to mount and many patients caught Covid during the Christmas break, more and more hospitals are declaring they are in crisis, particularly in London and Essex.
Data from NHS England shows 743 critical care beds were available the last week of December than the same week of 2019 – 4,394 versus 3,651.
In the same week, there were an average of 828 more patients in intensive care, suggesting the strain of Covid-19 is larger than the hospitals prepared.
Many of the extra beds are in London – 253 of them – but even that was not enough to prevent the coronavirus patient surge.
Data showed that by Christmas week the intensive care units of two hospitals were 100 percent full and another 10 of 18 were more than 90 percent full or had fewer than three beds left.
In the past few days, grim reports have surfaced from the capital that some of the country’s largest hospitals have been forced to treat Covid-19 patients in ambulances outside or dismantling wards to make room for intensive care patients.
Although the city has a huge nightingale hospital on standby at the Excel Center, nursing unions say there aren’t enough staff to manage it and the equipment has been removed since it was on standby this summer.