Coronavirus: London hospital declares ‘critical incident’ as intensive care overwhelmed by patients

Northwick Park hospital calls for help from neighbouring hospitals as NHS England rushes to free up 30,000 beds

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Friday 20 March 2020 16:55 GMT
Coronavirus in numbers

A London hospital declared a critical incident after its intensive care unit was overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, part of the London North West University Healthcare Trust, sent a message to staff on Thursday night warning that it had run out of critical-care space.

The hospital said it called on neighbouring hospitals for help to take on additional patients. The incident was stood down after 24 hours.

Six patients who tested positive for the coronavirus infection have died at the hospital.

It comes as the NHS rushes to find an extra 30,000 bed spaces in order to establish makeshift intensive-care units ahead of an expected surge in coronavirus cases over the coming weeks.

In an email sent on Thursday night, first reported by the Health Service Journal, staff were told: “I am writing to let you know that we have this evening 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 the Northwick Park site.”

The London North West University Healthcare Trust has been approached for comment.

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