The NHS England presentation, seen by the HSJ, showed that the NHS in London would be short of nearly 2,000 general and acute and intensive care beds by January 19 even in the “best case” scenario.
This scenario includes the number of Covid patients growing at the lowest rate considered likely, and measures to manage demand and increase capacity – including opening the capital’s Nightingale hospital – being successful.
The briefing forecasts demand for both G&A and intensive care beds, for both Covid and non-Covid patients, against capacity. It accounted for the impact of planned measures to mitigate demand and increase capacity.
For both G&A and intensive care, three scenarios are detailed: “Best”, which projects 4 per cent daily growth; “Average” which plots 5 per cent daily growth; and “worse” which forecasts 6 per cent daily growth.
The briefing says that growth on January 5 was 3.5 per cent for G&A beds and 4.8 per cent for ICU beds.
Because more patients are surviving Covid due to improved treatments, it means people stay in hospital for longer but many continue to require a critical care bed.
Royal College of Surgeons president Neil Mortensen stressed that wards and intensive care units are coming under huge pressure, with many hospitals already cancelling some routine surgery.
He told Times Radio: “My colleagues in London doing ward rounds for example report that there are problems with staff numbers on the wards, staff numbers in theatres, then of course if you need to go to the intensive care unit, if the intensive care unit is full of Covid patients, there is no room for you.
“So, it’s a really serious situation.”