Barts Health can mobilise a 150% increase in beds for Covid-19 patients


London’s biggest NHS trust can mobilise a 150% increase in the number of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients if there is a major coronavirus spike this winter.

The expansion is set out in plans for how the Barts Health group of hospitals intend to manage the ongoing pandemic while also restoring as many routine services as possible.

The group currently has 125 critical care beds available, but the operational plan envisages adding 195 more over a month, largely by fully opening the bespoke new unit created earlier this year at The Royal London Hospital.

In addition, there are now 490 overnight beds in the five hospitals, plus 61 day care spaces, so patients whose planned operations were postponed earlier in the pandemic can now be rescheduled for treatment.

The plans are set out in Living with Covid – how the Barts Health group of hospitals will deliver the best possible care for the duration of the pandemic. The plans were finalised just before the daily numbers of Covid-19 cases started rising again.

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Although over 650 patients have tragically died from the coronavirus, more than 3,000 have recovered following treatment since the start of the pandemic.

Alwen Williams, the group chief executive, said the NHS had changed forever, but paid tribute to how staff had enthusiastically adopted new ways of working to enable the Trust to restart treatments put on hold, and begin to recover the backlog.

“Our hospitals look quite different to the casual visitor because of the necessary steps we are taking to keep our staff and patients safe,” she said.

“Infection prevention and control remains our top priority, and departments are now divided into zones so coronavirus cases can be treated in isolation. All staff and visitors must wear face masks in public and patient areas.”

The report also sets out how the group is responding to the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME staff, patients and local communities by eliminating discrimination and racial inequality in the organisation.

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