NHS strikes major deal with independent hospitals for more beds, ventilators and extra staff amid Coronavirus chaos
8,000 hospital beds, 1,200 ventilators and thousands of extra healthcare staff will be made urgently available this week to aid the NHS fight against Coronavirus in a first-of-its-kind new deal.
The expanded capacity comes from a major deal agreed between NHS England and independent hospitals throughout England.
It is the first deal of its kind ever and 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.
In London – the place that has been most hard-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in England – it includes over 2,000 hospital beds and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.
The extra resources now secured by the NHS will be available to treat COVID-19 patients but they will also help the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “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.
“But it is absolutely vital that this is matched by successful and comprehensive adoption of the public measures needed to cut the spread of the virus. We all have to play our part to help offset the enormous pressure that our nurses, doctors and other specialists will otherwise face.”
Last Tuesday, NHS England announced that NHS Hospitals across the country are taking a range of action to prepare, including freeing up 30,000 of the overall 100,000 beds available by postponing non-urgent operations and providing care in the community for those who are fit to be discharged. The NHS is also sourcing up to 10,000 in independent and community hospitals, which this deal largely now delivers.
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 no profit will be made for doing so. “Open book” accounting and external auditors will verify the public funds being deployed.
David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, commented: “Independent hospitals are boosting emergency capacity to put at the disposal of the NHS over these coming weeks. 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.”
Independent sector staff supporting the NHS are defined as key workers by the Government.