9,000-plus coronavirus patients in English hospitals, says NHS boss

March 30, 2020 2:30:54 PM

More than 9,000 people who have tested positive for coronavirus are being treated in hospitals across England, NHS England’s chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has said.

Speaking to the BBC on a visit to the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London, Sir Simon said that the number of patients will increase, but explained that services set up to handle additional capacity will be available later this week.

Sir Simon said: “Today there are over 9,000 positive coronavirus patients in hospitals across England and we know that number is only going to increase.

“That’s why what you see here is a mass mobilisation, taking place right across the country, but also at these new Nightingale hospitals.

“This has been an extraordinary team effort on the part of nurses and doctors and therapists and pharmacists across London, but also volunteers and paramedics and people returning to help.

Sir Simon Stevens visited the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital
Sir Simon Stevens visited the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“And when these services are needed, they will be available beginning later this week, and because this is a global health emergency we’re actually seeing similar types of hospitals being established in Berlin and Madrid and New York.”

Sir Simon also said that NHS England will be able to double the number of coronavirus tests it has available for staff by the end of this week.

It was announced last week that around 800 samples would be processed over the weekend at the first of three new hub laboratories set up by the Government for the duration of the crisis.

NHS staff and contractors working at the ExCel centre
NHS staff and contractors working at the ExCel centre (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said: “NHS staff are affected just like people across the country as a whole and so we are seeing staff who are doing the right thing and having to self-isolate at home.

“That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important that we are ramping up staff testing, but it’s also why it’s so vital that all of us take the medical advice and stay at home.

“That will reduce the infections and reduce the need for services such as this new Nightingale hospital.”

Sir Simon added: “By the end of this week, we will be able to do double the number of tests that were available last week and we want to start with critical care nurses, with A&E staff, with ambulance personnel, and then expand that to a much wider group of NHS staff over the coming days and weeks.”

Sir Simon Stevens applauding NHS staff
Sir Simon applauded NHS staff during his visit (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Simon also said that intensive care beds are available for those that need them, adding that the Government is “pulling out all the stops” to procure personal protective equipment for NHS staff.

He said: “We have got available intensive care and available hospital beds but we are also bringing online additional capacity such as these Nightingale hospitals as we need them.”

Sir Simon added: “It is vital that frontline NHS staff get the protective equipment they need. 170 million items of that protective equipment have been shipped, it’s a huge logistics exercise.

“The army have been brilliant in helping but we know we’re going to need more and the Government are pulling out all the stops to procure for us that personal protective equipment that we will want over the coming days and weeks.”