Ventilators UK: Could the NHS run out of ventilators as more deadly variant spreads?

Coronavirus patients face ‘competition for ventilator’ says doctor

Ventilators are devices used by critically ill patients suffering from coronavirus, mechanical ventilation might be the difference between life and death. These devices essentially work by assisting or replacing all respiratory functions, pumping oxygen into the blood for vital organs. As more patients have been admitted to hospital, coronavirus patients have been forced to “compete for ventilators” according to insiders. But could the NHS really run out of its supply?

The number of patients on ventilation in the UK has surpassed 4,076 for the first time since the pandemic began.

In total, 4,076 patients were on ventilation as of 4pm on Saturday, January 23, according to the latest Government data.

This is higher than the peak of the first wave when 3,301 people were on ventilation on April 12.

In addition, 4,125 new Covid patients were admitted to hospital, bringing the total number of patients in hospital to 37,899.

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The number of people in mechanical ventilation beds has risen every day since December 18.

Eight days later, the London Ambulance Service reported Boxing Day was one of its busiest days ever.

Speaking on Friday, January 22, from Downing Street, the UK’s chief scientific adviser said the death rate is very high.

He said: “The death rate is awful and it’s going to stay, I’m afraid, high for a little while before it starts coming down.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson attributed the struggles to the new coronavirus variant which is showing evidence of potentially being more deadly.

He said: “I must tell you this afternoon that we have been informed today that, in addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant – the variant that was first identified in London and the South East – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality, and I’m going to ask Patrick in a minute to say a bit more about that.

“Because it is largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure, with another 40,261 positive cases since yesterday.

“We have 38,562 COVID patients now in hospital, that’s 78 percent higher than the first peak in April and, tragically, there have been a further 1,401 deaths.

“So, it is more important than ever that we all remain vigilant in following the rules and that we stay at home, protect the NHS and thereby save lives.”

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A record number of seriously ill coronavirus patients are being transferred from over-stretched hospitals due to a lack of bed space according to new figures.

Around one in 10 patients being admitted into intensive care are now being sent to a different facility.

In total, 392 patients have been transferred so far in 2021.

This is more per week than in April 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.

Speaking to ITN, Dr Megan Smith, of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, discussed the current shortfall in critical care capacity across London.

She said: “It’s not a position that any of us want to be in, and we’re used to making difficult decisions as doctors.

“But deciding the outcome of – effectively – a competition for a ventilator is just not what anyone signed up for.

“And in terms of the emotional trauma to those individuals, it’s horrifying.”

The NHS confirmed it had 30,000 ventilators in September last year.

This would be enough for around one in every 2,200 people in the UK, which is believed to be more than will be needed.

Hospitals in England had 7,400 of the machines at the start of the pandemic, a report revealed.

But the British Government spent £569m to secure more.

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