Covid patients treated in ambulances outside London hospital

29 December 2020, 21:50

Ambulances queuing up outside Queen's Hospital in Romford, London
Ambulances queuing up outside Queen's Hospital in Romford, London. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Coronavirus patients are being treated in ambulances outside a hospital in north east London, with rising numbers putting health services under "significant pressure".

Patients with Covid-19 have been receiving care in emergency vehicles parked up outside Queen's Hospital in Romford before being moved into the building.

Footage from the location shared on social media appears to show dozens of ambulances queuing up outside the facility.

People in the area have been urged to only contact the ambulance service in the case of real emergencies.

A statement released by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "Along with the rest of the NHS, we are under considerable pressure as we look after a rising number of Covid-19 patients, some of whom are being cared for safely in ambulances before entering Queen's Hospital.

"You can help us by calling NHS 111 if you need medical advice, and only coming to our emergency departments in a real emergency."

Read more: London critical care patients 'could be moved to Yorkshire' - HSJ

Read more: UK records over 50,000 daily cases for first time in pandemic

A number of emergency vehicles were also seen queuing near the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, as the Barts Health NHS Trust announced it had moved into a "very high pressure" phase.

Magda Smith, the Trust's chief medical officer, said: "London's NHS is under significant pressure from high Covid-19 infection rates and non-Covid winter demands, with staff in all services going the extra mile and we are opening more beds to care for the most unwell patients.

"It is more important than ever that Londoners follow government guidance and do everything possible to reduce transmission of the virus."

It comes after the UK recorded a further 53,135 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the largest daily rise since the pandemic began.

On the eve of Britain's lockdown review, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing growing pressure to tighten up restrictions and possibly plunge the country into a third national lockdown to curb rising transmissions.

Read more: Covid patients 'piling up at door' as hospitals risk being overwhelmed

Read more: London's Nightingale hospital 'on standby' despite staffing worries

Meanwhile, critical care patients in London could be transferred to Yorkshire due to overcapacity, according to a report in the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

Senior sources in intensive care have told the HSJ that requests have been made to move patients away from the capital due to rising hospitalisation figures, the journal has said.

An image showing an internal NHS critical care capacity dashboard, published by the HSJ, reveals the city's critical care capacity is currently at 114.2 per cent, with more than three in five of those due to Covid-19.

In response, an NHS spokesperson told LBC: “The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to manage significant pressure, either from high Covid-19 infection rates or non-Covid winter demands, and this has always included mutual aid practices whereby hospitals work together to manage admissions.

“While the NHS is opening more beds in places like London to care for the most unwell patients, it is vital that people continue to follow government guidance and do everything possible to reduce transmission of the virus.”

The number of Covid patients in London's hospitals is now higher than the levels recorded at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.

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