Thousands of additional hospital beds and healthcare workers will be available from next week to deal with the coronavirus crisis, thanks to a deal reached between independent sector hospital providers and NHS England.
It was announced today that an additional 20,000 fully qualified staff and 8,000 extra beds will be made available as a result of the deal.
The NHS will also gain access to nearly 1,200 more ventilators and other critical care facilities.
It is understood that independent sector providers will be reimbursed at cost for any activity they carry out or capacity they provide.
The deal – the first of its kind ever – includes the provision of more than 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff.
In London it includes over 2,000 hospital beds, and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.
INDEPENDENT SECTOR TO SUPPLY…
10,000 extra nurses
700 extra doctors
8,000 extra other clinical staff
8,000 extra hospital beds
1,200 extra ventilators and critical care facilities
(Including 250 operating theatres and 2,000 hospital beds in London)
Huge numbers of planned elective operations and procedures at both NHS and private hospitals have already been cancelled or postponed as a result of the crisis.
Earlier this week, NHS England announced that health service hospitals across the country are taking a range of measures, 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.
But the extra resources announced today will not only be available to treat coronavirus patients, but will also help the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, 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.”
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.
So-called “open book” accounting and external auditors will verify the public funds being deployed.
David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: “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.”
Earlier this week, professional health bodies also wrote to 55,000 former doctors and nurses who have left the NHS in the last three years for them to re-join the workforce.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how hard the NHS has been working to secure extra beds and staffing.
“This is great news for the hospitals and staff doing everything they can to combat coronavirus. I want to pay particular tribute to those heroes returning to front line to support their colleagues and help as many patients recover from the virus.”