NHS agrees deal with private hospitals to provide extra beds and ventilators

21 March 2020, 15:29

Thousands more beds will be available
Thousands more beds will be available. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Thousands more beds, ventilators and extra healthcare staff will be available from next week to aid the fight against coronavirus thanks to a deal between NHS England and independent hospitals, the NHS has announced.

The extra resources, including nearly 20,000 staff, will also help the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.

The deal, which is the first of its kind, includes the provision of 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 more ventilators, more than 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff.

Under the agreement, the independent sector will reallocate practically its entire national hospital capacity en bloc to the NHS.

It will be reimbursed "at cost", meaning that it will not make any profit for doing so.

In London it includes over 2000 hospital beds, and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens hailed the deal with the private sector, saying: "We're dealing with an unprecedented global health threat and are taking immediate and exceptional action to gear up.

"The NHS is doing everything in its power to expand treatment capacity and is working with partners right across the country to do so."

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary said: "This is great news for the hospitals and staff doing everything they can to combat coronavirus."

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: "We have worked hand-in-hand with the NHS for decades and will do whatever it takes to support the NHS in responding to this pandemic.

"This significant additional capacity across the country will be a major boost to the NHS's efforts to treat those patients that need hospital care over the coming period and the independent sector stands ready to maintain that support for as long as needed."

It follows Chancellor Rishi Sunak's dramatic announcement that the Government is to underwrite the wages of millions of workers at risk of losing their jobs as a result of the crisis.

The number of coronavirus deaths in England had risen to 167 as of yesterday, with a further 39 reported in 24 hours.