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NHS to set up hospital in ExCeL Centre as coronavirus cases grow

Over half a million people have also volunteered with the health service

NHS

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has planned to turn the ExCeL Centre in East London into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients as cases rise in the capital and across the country.

The ExCeL Centre, which is an exhibition space and has been used for various large-scale events and conferences, could hold approximately 4,000 patients.

The temporary field hospital will be used by NHS medics to treat thousands of patients, with help from the military, and will initially provide around 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen.

The move comes as confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the UK continue to grow at a rapid pace, with over 8,000 confirmed cases in the country as of 25 March, and over 400 deaths.

In addition to the ExCeL Centre, the military is also scoping other potential locations that may be turned into hospitals to treat patients who can’t be accommodated in “normal NHS facilities”, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC.

Staff at the temporary hospital could include final year medical students as well as retired healthcare professionals who have been called back to the health service.

Experts have raised concerns that the NHS could become overwhelmed with cases and run out of intensive care beds if the virus spreads at an exponential rate over the coming weeks.

A similar situation has already been observed in Italy, which now has the highest number of deaths associated with the novel coronavirus disease – COVID-19 – than any other country in the world.

NHS calls for volunteers to help the vulnerable

According to the BBC, over half a million people have signed up to volunteer with the NHS, as concerns grow that society’s most vulnerable are becoming increasingly at-risk as the coronavirus spreads across the UK.

These volunteers will be delivering food and medicines, as well as driving patients to appointments and phoning those who may be isolated.

The new workforce will primarily be working with the approximately 1.5 million people in the UK who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill with the virus.

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson asked these at-risk populations – including those with certain underlying health conditions and those over the age of 70 – to stay at home for 12 weeks.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

25th March 2020

From: Healthcare

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