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Coronavirus: London hospitals two weeks from being ‘overwhelmed’

Capital could have a shortfall of more than 5,000 intensive care beds in a fortnight

Hospitals in London will have to start turning away patients in less than two weeks under even the most optimistic Covid scenario, according to NHS England’s medical director for the city.

The alarming assessment was delivered during a Zoom briefing given by Dr Vin Diwakar to the city’s most senior doctors yesterday afternoon, the Health Service Journal reports.

Diwakar warned that even if the number of Covid patients grew at the slowest rate considered likely, and measures to manage demand and increase capacity were a success, NHS hospitals in the capital would be short of nearly 2,000 general, acute and intensive care beds by 19 January.

However, under worse scenarios, the shortfall could be as high as 5,422 beds by the same date.

The Health Service Journal says options that have been “floated” to address the shortfall include “very significantly” reducing the number of non-Covid patients by cancelling elective treatment and sending those patients to other regions or private providers, in the capital or beyond.

However, with the more highly transmissible new variant of the coronavirus spreading across the country, available beds in other parts of England are also running out.

“Major problems” have emerged in London, The Guardian says, with video footage showing a large number of ambulances queuing outside Queen’s hospital in Romford, and the Royal London hospital telling staff it’s going into “disaster medicine” mode.

The Sun adds that news of the capital’s “ticking time bomb” comes as police are preparing to send specialist teams, including paramedics and fire staff, to remove bodies of people who die of Covid at home.

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