A London hospital trust has admitted that it is turning away coronavirus patients. Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said it has been forced to transfer patients with COVID-19 to neighbouring hospitals.
It comes as NHS chiefs warned services in the capital are on the brink of being overwhelmed.
A senior clinician at the trust revealed that on Tuesday only one patient had been admitted to intensive care out of a group of five who were eligible, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The trust insists, however, that all who have required ventilation have so far received it.
London’s coronavirus death toll rose sharply in line with the number of total UK deaths – with 16 of the total 29 new fatalities in England having occurred in the capital.
There were three deaths at Lewisham and Greenwich, more than nearby larger trusts.
In the UK, there are 144 confirmed deaths from the virus.
Medical leaders warned on Thursday that smaller hospitals would find it hard to cope with the influx of patients.
They said hospitals were already transferring patients to larger teaching counterparts in order to cope with the demand.
A government source told The Telegraph: “In London, the situation is already looking like one of the worst winters we could remember – elderly people needing ventilators and just not enough of them to go round.
“We were already under pressure, the situation is deteriorating pretty fast.”
Speaking to the publication, an unnamed clinical staff member involved in the coronavirus response at Lewisham and Greenwich said the trust’s A&E departments now resemble “COVID-19 waiting rooms”.
He said: “We’re running out of beds and running out of space.
“Some patients with Covid-19 are being shipped to other trusts.
“Managers are off sick with stress.”
Meanwhile, Professor Christ Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, admitted he was aware of the deteriorating situation in London.
He said that because of the respiratory aspect of the virus, intensive care units would be the first to experience “real pressure”.
He added that there will be a “lag” before the public’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 will result in a slowing of case numbers.
Other sectors of the UK are already feeling the pressure coronavirus poses, with schools in England and Wales closing their doors from today.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters during his daily virus briefing that he believed the UK could get “on top of” the virus within the next 12 weeks.