ARMY doctors are manning heaving intensive care units in London today, The Sun can reveal.
As the NHS struggles with wave after wave of Covid cases, medically-trained troops have stepped in at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, while servicewomen in fatigues were pictured at the Royal Free in Hampstead.
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On Monday, 40 British Army medical technicians arrived at St George's, with a further 30 more due to start today in non-clinical support roles.
Hospital staff were told last night: “Once their induction has been completed, all 70 army personnel will be allocated roles across the Trust, including on ITU and on our wards.”
They were warned: “Infection rates in the community are going down, but we still expect Covid-19 admissions to put significant pressure on our general and acute beds, plus ITU, for a number of weeks yet.”
St George’s Trust yesterday had 75 Covid patients in intensive care and nearly 300 on other wards.
The Army medics are part of a wave of more than 200 personnel deployed by the Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence to relieve pressure on struggling hospitals across the south-east.
The servicemen and women will assist ICU staff battling Covid-19 at main NHS trusts.
A further 150 military staff will help in non-clinical roles in order to allow doctors and nurses to care for patients, after the NHS sent a request to the Ministry of Defence for aid.
A leaked email claims soldiers will help liaise between patient families and staff, as well as helping with ward activities such as moving patients and equipment around hospitals.
Some 10,000 Londoners are testing positive for Covid every day.
The capital has been at the epicentre of the pandemic's second wave – and officials say the super-infectious mutant strain will stop cases falling as quickly as they did after the first wave.
And while academics say the crucial R-rate may be as low as 0.6 in the city, the number of people catching the deadly virus is still "extremely high".
However, there's hope the city may have turned the tide – as cases fall in every borough. Despite that, some 8,000 people are currently in hospitals across London with Covid.
Dr Rupert Pearse, from the Intensive Care Society, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “It looks as though infections have peaked in London, but are still on the rise in the north-west of England and around Yorkshire, so there is still cause to be concerned.
“Hospital admissions tend to lag seven to 10 days behind the peak in infections and intensive care medicine unit admissions maybe 48 hours after those, so those hospitals that are very close to the maximum number of hospital beds that they can allocate for Covid are still very worried about what will happen in the coming days.”
And another health chief says medics are approaching burn-out.
Infection rates drop in every London borough
The list reads: Place, cases per 100,000 in the week to January 13, cases per 100,000 in the week to January 6, and the percentage drop
- Barking and Dagenham: 1,096.30, 1,578.20, -30.53%
- Barnet: 744.9, 953.6, -21.89%
- Bexley: 748.3, 1,192.60, -37.25%
- Brent: 968.9, 1,081.10, -10.38%
- Bromley: 599.7, 956.9, -37.33%
- Camden: 479.6, 662.5, -27.61%
- Croydon: 879.7, 1,082.50, -18.73%
- Ealing: 949.7, 1,066.10, -10.92%
- Enfield: 804.1, 1,232.80, -34.77%
- Greenwich: 812, 1,080.80, -24.87%
- Hackney and City of London: 724.8, 903.2, -19.75%
- Hammersmith and Fulham: 609.8, 725.9, -15.99%
- Haringey: 774.3, 1,039.30, -25.50%
- Harrow: 758.5, 926.5, -18.13%
- Havering: 741.7, 1,214.80, -38.94%
- Hillingdon: 792.8, 993.6, -20.21%
- Hounslow: 928.8, 1,146.90, -19.02%
- Islington: 568.3, 810, -29.84%
- Kensington and Chelsea: 551.5, 644.3, -14.40%
- Kingston upon Thames: 486.7, 730.1, -33.34%
- Lambeth: 789.5 ,926.9, -14.82%
- Lewisham: 776.2, 1,030.60, -24.68%
- Merton: 738.8, 897.1, -17.65%
- Newham: 1,043.20, 1,416.70, -26.36%
- Redbridge: 879, 1,392.80, -36.89%
- Richmond upon Thames: 392.9, 548.9, -28.42%
- Southwark: 749.3, 1,009.90, -25.80%
- Sutton: 720.6, 973.1, -25.95%
- Tower Hamlets: 826.8, 1,174.20, -29.59%
- Waltham Forest: 832.9, 1,140.90, -27.00%
- Wandsworth: 594.5, 759.5, -21.72%
- Westminster: 489.8, 573.3, -14.56%
Alison Pittard, dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said many intensive care units are "already overwhelmed".
She told Sky News this morning: "There are many intensive care units and hospitals around the country that are already overwhelmed – seeing unprecedented numbers of cases, large numbers of very, very sick people, many of whom are dying.
"And there are staff who are almost on their knees, having been going through this non-stop for months and months and months."
She added: "We're nowhere near out of this at the moment", and said intensive care units are expecting further increases in patients.
Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England warned last week: "Case rates in London remain extremely high and around 10,000 Londoners were diagnosed with Covid every day this week.
"This level of transmission is severe, and continues to drive pressure on the NHS, with more Londoners being admitted to ICU and ultimately dying of this disease or having long-term complications.
"As a result, we have more difficult weeks ahead of us."
Officials believe the second wave peaked in the capital on January 4 – the start of the national lockdown – when 1,117.1 new cases were recorded per 100,000 Londoners.
There are claims London's medics are being forced to choose who gets critical care.
Doctors are reportedly triaging patients for critical care, with younger patients in the queue ahead of older people admitted.
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