NHS strikes massive deal with private hospitals in coronavirus fight

NHS strikes massive deal with private hospitals for 20,000 extra staff, 8,000 beds and 1,200 ventilators in fight against coronavirus

  • Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will be joining the NHS response to pandemic
  • The deal – the first of its kind ever – includes the provision of 8,000 hospital beds
  • Across England, 1200 more ventilators, 10,000 nurses, 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff to join NHS
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

NHS England has struck a deal with the nation’s private hospitals to ensure more beds, ventilators and thousands of extra healthcare staff will be made urgently available from next week to aid the fight against coronavirus. 

Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will be joining the NHS response to the pandemic, helping manage the expected surge in cases, in the first ever deal of its kind.

The extra resources, now secured by the health service, will not only be available to treat coronavirus patients, but will also help the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.

Up to 8,000 additional hospital beds and nearly 1200 more ventilators will be provided across England.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) Simon Stevens leave number 10 Downng Street, London on March 18

While 10,000 private sector nurses, 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff will rush to the aid of the currently nearing capacity NHS.

In London it includes over 2000 hospital beds, and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘We’re dealing with an unprecedented global health threat and are taking immediate and exceptional action to gear up. The NHS is doing everything in its power to expand treatment capacity, and is working with partners right across the country to do so.

‘But it is absolutely vital that this is matched by successful and comprehensive adoption of the public measures needed to cut the spread of the virus. We all have to play our part to help offset the enormous pressure that our nurses, doctors and other specialists will otherwise face.’

Extra resources now secured by NHS will not only be available to treat coronavirus patients, but other urgent operations and treatments. Private hospital in London UK (stock image)

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary said: ‘I know how hard the NHS have been working to secure extra beds and staffing.

‘This is great news for the hospitals and staff doing everything they can to combat Coronavirus. I want to pay particular tribute to those heroes returning to front line to support their colleagues and help as many patients recover from the virus.’

On Tuesday NHS England announced that NHS Hospitals across the country are taking a range of action to prepare, including freeing up 30,000 of the overall 100,000 beds available by postponing non-urgent operations and providing care in the community for those who are fit to be discharged. The NHS is also sourcing up to 10,000 in independent and community hospitals, which this deal largely now delivers.

Under the agreement, the independent sector will reallocate practically its entire national hospital capacity en bloc to the NHS. It will be reimbursed, at cost – meaning no profit will be made for doing so. ‘Open book’ accounting and external auditors will verify the public funds being deployed.

Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will be joining the NHS response to the pandemic, helping manage the expected surge in cases

David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network said: ‘Independent hospitals are boosting emergency capacity to put at the disposal of the NHS over these coming weeks. We have worked hand-in-hand with the NHS for decades and will do whatever it takes to support the NHS in responding to this pandemic.

‘This significant additional capacity across the country will be a major boost to the NHS’s efforts to treat those patients that need hospital care over the coming period and the independent sector stands ready to maintain that support for as long as needed.’

Earlier this week, professional health bodies also wrote to 55,000 former doctors and nurses who have left the NHS in the last three years for them to re-join the workforce. 

Former Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt joined calls for the Government to ‘sort out’ the lack of personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front line

Today NHS staff spoke out over their ‘genuine fear’ as they are forced to buy their own protective equipment while fighting coronavirus.

Healthcare providers are also resorting to reusing disposable items due to a lack of supply.

The lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) has prompted concern for the safety of doctors and nurses on the front line.  

Former Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt joined calls for the Government to ‘sort this out’, adding: ‘We are asking people to put their own lives at risk on the NHS front line.

‘It is absolutely heart-breaking when NHS front-line professionals don’t have the equipment that they need.

NHS guidelines state medical staff are to have protective FFP3 masks (pictured) ‘fit-tested’ to ensure adequate resistance against infection

‘I think the Government has done a lot in the last week. I think they have unblocked the supply chains, but there is this question about whether it is the right equipment. 

He spoke after Lisa Anderson, a consultant cardiologist at St George’s Hospital in London, said the Government had changed the rules so they were no longer compliant with World Health Organisation recommendations, which require medics to wear a full gown and visor.

She said that since Monday, staff in the NHS only had to wear a simple face mask, short gloves and a pinafore apron.

‘This is not just about the risk to ourselves and our families. We are travelling home on the Tube, on buses,’ she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘Sainsbury’s this morning has announced that they are opening up the early hours to the frail, elderly and NHS workers. We are cross-infecting everybody at the moment.

‘There is a lack of protection for us which extends to a lack of plan of how to segregate patients clean and dirty, how to protect us and keep us away from the public. Doctors have no faith in what is going on.’

Responding to the comments, Public Health England said its guidance was designed to ensure healthcare workers treating suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases are protected.




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