Britain’s largest private hospital group has confirmed that it will not be carrying out any elective surgery after April 15, as it redeploys as much capacity as possible in the national effort against COVID-19.
A spokesman for BMI Healthcare – which is currently being acquired by Circle Health, the operator of hospitals in Bath and Reading as well as clinics overseas – said the group has offered all of its bed capacity, including specialised intensive care beds, across its portfolio of 52 hospitals and clinics to the NHS.
The move is part of the landmark deal agreed between the independent healthcare sector and the NHS at the weekend, which will see almost all of Britain’s private hospital capacity be set aside to deal with the crisis.
The deal means that an additional 20,000 fully-qualified staff and 8,000 extra beds will be made available to help the NHS to deal patients that need COVID-19 care. Hospital operators have agreed to supply the capacity at cost and without profit.
A spokesman for BMI Healthcare said: “We are proud to be supporting the fight against COVID-19. On Saturday, we agreed a formal partnership with NHS England to support the national effort to tackle COVID-19 by offering all our bed capacity including specialised intensive care beds, across the group’s 52 hospitals and clinics.
“This wide-ranging agreement provides additional capacity for urgent and important treatments that normally take place in NHS hospitals, makes the group’s state of the art equipment available, and facilitates training programmes to broaden the services that can be undertaken in our hospitals.”
In a joint statement, Circle CEO Paolo Pieri and BMI CEO Karen Prins said: “Nothing matters more than getting vulnerable patients the treatment they need, and all sectors and industries have agreed to pull together in this national effort. We stand ready to support the NHS in any way we can at this time of national crisis.”
Fellow private hospital operator Spire Healthcare said that its entire capacity of 35 private hospitals across the country has been given over to tacking COVID-19, while Nuffield Health said it is making 27 of its hospitals across England available to NHS trusts to deal with COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 caseloads, with its remaining three now set aside to treat NHS cancer patients.
A spokesman for Circle and BMI said that services remain “open and treating patients”.
He said: “If you, and the people you live with, don’t have any coronavirus symptoms you are welcome to attend your appointments. If you have a new, continuous cough or a fever, you should stay at home for seven days from when your symptoms started and ask us to rearrange your appointment. Similarly, if you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms and ask us to rearrange your appointment. Please always check the very latest advice online here before leaving home for your appointment.”
The spokesman added: “We continue to accept bookings from new patients with urgent clinical needs including oncology and cardiac patients. We will not be performing any elective surgery after 15 April until further notice. Future arrangements will be communicated on our website.”
In addition to Circle/BMI, Spire and Nuffield, HCA Healthcare UK, Ramsay Health Care UK and Schoen Clinic have also pledged their support, while the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in London is accepting patients from local NHS trusts to create bed capacity in the NHS and has accelerated the commissioning of its new Intensive Care Unit to provide capacity for more severely-affected patients.