London hospitals warned there could be 1,500 coronavirus patients by mid-August

22 July 2021, 12:54 | Updated: 22 July 2021, 13:23

Staff at The Royal Marsden Hospital have been warned of rising infection rates in the city (file image)
Staff at The Royal Marsden Hospital have been warned of rising infection rates in the city (file image). Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

Hospitals in London could need 1,500 beds for coronavirus patients by the middle of August, LBC understands.

Details of an online briefing at The Royal Marsden Hospital seen by LBC warn bosses are preparing for a "significant escalation" of Coronavirus in London in August.

According to excerpts from the briefing, the situation in London is moving away from being "calm and relaxed", with hospital chiefs becoming increasingly concerned over a need for more bed space for Covid patients.

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Staff at the Royal Marsden were briefed by the hospital’s Medical Director, Dr Nick van As, that there has been a "really significant escalation" of coronavirus in London.

Hospital admissions of coronavirus patients in London have increased in recent weeks, reflecting the upward trend in coronavirus cases.

On July 20 there were 662 COVID-19 patients in London hospitals, up from 514 on July 13. This is a 22% increase in the space of one week.

131 of those 662 were being treated on mechanical ventilation beds, compared with 101 a week earlier, a 23% increase.

London has previously dealt with far higher numbers of coronavirus patients. On 18 January, London hospitals had 7,917 beds occupied by patients with coronavirus, the largest number since the pandemic began.

Hospitals in the Midlands saw a high of of 6,380 patients with coronavirus on January 21. The figure was 4,338 in the North West on January 24 and 2,366 in the South West, which was recorded on January 18.

The number of patients on mechanical ventilators peaked at just 219 in the South West on January 24, while for the Midlands it was 673 on January 27 and in the North West 417 on January 22.

If this new modelling is correct, there could be a 127% increase in the number of beds occupied by coronavirus patients in London in just over three weeks.

Staff were informed the average length of stay for coronavirus patients in hospital has decreased, but the number of patients is rising: "We may need up to 1,500 beds for COVID in London by mid-August," said Dr van As.

He also highlighted frustrations around the 'pingdemic' that lots of people are currently self-isolating as a result of the NHS app, and that the NHS was hoping to be able to get double vaccinated staff members back to work "much earlier or hopefully straight away."

He stressed that while being contacted by Test and Trace comes with a legal obligation to isolate, the app provides guidance only.

"If you are pinged, it is guidance and we are going to communicate early next week the Trust policy on how we manage this. We’re just working through it with other hospitals in London."

The government has since announced that NHS frontline staff may continue working if they receive a notification from the app telling them to isolate, as long as they test daily.

NHS policy mandates that all staff have to submit two lateral flow tests a week, although some hospitals such as the Royal Marsden are offering PCR tests in the place of one of these.

The Royal Marsden cares for cancer patients, many of whom receive treatments which result in them being immunosuppressed such as chemotherapy.

The rise in cases therefore means that the hospital’s visiting policy has not been relaxed, and all infection prevention and control measures are being kept in place.

NHS England London said: "Whilst we are starting to see, and are prepared for, increasing numbers of COVID positive patients in London’s hospitals, current admissions are below the high rates that we have previously experienced, with the majority seriously unwell being those who have not received both doses of the vaccine.

"The vaccine is safe and effective and we urge everyone to get the jab as it not only protects you and your family but also your friends and those around you."