In the coming days and weeks, British healthcare professionals could face the challenge of choosing who lives and who dies. This is according to experts in the public health system, who anticipate the greatest strain in NHS history due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
“The health service does not have the space to meet the pressure. In some places, it will become overwhelming for us within a few days. If the demand for respiratory assistance exceeds the supply, we will face the horrific decisions of who lives and who dies. ”
This was stated by Claudia Paoloni, President of the Association of Hospital Physicians (HCSA), in an interview with the Guardian.
The decisions will include who is admitted to the intensive care unit and who receives limited care, how long the patient will receive full treatment if he does not appear to be recovering and someone else needs treatment with the same machines, and who will receive respiratory assistance if all respirators are in use, says Paoloni.
Consider camping outside the hospitals
Paoloni warns that hospitals may be forced to stop providing non-Covid-19 services, even undergoing cancer removal surgeries. Managers may need to ask themselves if surgery can be performed when there is no space available in the intensive care unit. Something could happen.
Simon Walsh, the vice-chairman of the British Medical Association’s advisory committee (BMA), has reported that in some places hospital managers are considering setting up tents outside hospitals to prioritize patients.
These are actions that are usually taken in the wake of catastrophic events such as terrorist attacks or industrial accidents.
Medical associations say the situation is worst in the southeastern part of the country, where intensive care units are overcrowded and there is an imminent shortage of both machinery and even oxygen.
Patients transferred and wards changed to care for Covid-infected
There has been a talk of adding a response level 5 due to the situation in the country, but on average 53,135 individuals are now diagnosed with Covid-19 every day. 414 die daily from the disease.
A total of 71,567 people have died in the epidemic and the health care system is overrun.
Some intensive care units in London have taken emergency measures to transport patients long distances to free up space and relieve stress. Royal Free Hospital also plans to move pediatric wards to another hospital to receive adult Covid-19 patients.
The emergency department of Barnet Hospital, run by Royal Free, will also be transformed to run Covid-19.
Today will be a difficult day, tomorrow may be tougher & the next couple of weeks are likely to be the busiest & most challenging we have ever faced in the NHS
You can help the people who will help you by doing the must-dos well: wear a mask, wash your hands, follow guidelines.
— Richard (@RMitchell_NHS) December 29, 2020
The management of Royal Free expects that the workload in the intensive care units will peak around 4 January.