Coronavirus: Northwick Park declares ‘critical incident’ as it runs out of space for Covid-19 patients

Northwick Park Hospital. Picture: PA/Anthony Devlin

Northwick Park Hospital. Picture: PA/Anthony Devlin - Credit: PA

Northwick Park Hospital has declared a “critical incident” due to a surge in coronavirus patients.

The hospital in Watford Road is in talk with partners to move patients to nearby hospitals to cope with the crisis.

An email to staff seen by the Health Service Journal said: “I am writing to let you know that we have this evening declared a ‘critical incident’ in relation to our critical care capacity at Northwick Park Hospital. This is due to an increasing number of patients with Covid-19. “This means that we currently do not have enough space for patients requiring critical care. “As part of our system resilience plans, we have contacted our partners in the North West London sector this evening to assist with the safe transfer of patients off of the Northwick Park site.”

A senior director at another London acute trust told HSJ: “Given we’re in the low foothills of this virus, this is f***ing petrifying.”

Northwick Park Hospital, run by the London North West University Hospital NHS Trust, has so far reported six deaths on site.

On March 6, in a letter seen by the Times from Dr Martin Kuper, the medical director told staff: “We are writing to let you know that here at Northwick Park Hospital we are currently treating patients with a respiratory illness known as novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

“Northwick Park Hospital is one of a group of hospitals chosen to care for coronavirus patients.

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“We have experienced doctors, nurses and other staff in the country, capable of dealing with this illness.

“We also have appropriate facilities designed to provide the best care for patients who have the virus whilst keeping everyone else being treated at Northwick Park Hospital safe.”

A man in his 60s was the first to die at the hospital on March 14,

The number of UK deaths has risen to 144.

A spokesperson from LNWUH said: “Critical care capacity for patients with coronavirus is being organised on a cross-London basis so that hospitals and organisations work together to deliver the best possible care for patients. “This kind of coordinated, flexible response is one of the NHS’s strengths but with staff pulling out all the stops they need the public to play their part too, by following the expert guidance on washing your hands, staying at home and using health services responsibly.”

Cllr Ketan Sheth, chair of the community and wellbeing scrutiny committee, said: “This was inevitable. I’m sure appropriate measures are being taken by the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, but fear that the Northwick Park will reach full capacity sooner than expected unless London is on a formal lockdown.”