Britain’s NHS gets capacity boost from private hospitals to fight coronavirus


FILE PHOTO: A “Do Not Enter” sign and National Health Service (NHS) information about the coronavirus is displayed at the entrance to a Doctors surgery in North London, Britain March 13, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has struck a deal with the country’s independent hospitals that will see more ventilators and thousands of extra beds and healthcare staff made available from next week to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

NHS England said on Saturday that nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will be joining the health service’s response to the pandemic, helping manage an expected surge in cases.

So far 177 patients have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for coronavirus, the health ministry said on Friday.

The deal includes the provision of 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 more ventilators, more than 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff.

In London it includes more than 2,000 hospital beds and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.

“Under the agreement, the independent sector will reallocate practically its entire national hospital capacity en bloc to the NHS,” said health minister Matt Hancock. “It will be reimbursed, at cost – meaning no profit will be made for doing so.”

Reporting by James Davey and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alexander Smith and David Holmes

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