Private hospitals commandeered for Britain’s Covid-19 crisis are STILL empty

Personal hospitals taken over by the NHS to battle coronavirus at a value of a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of kilos to the taxpayer stay virtually fully empty – regardless of an enormous backlog of sufferers needing most cancers remedy and routine surgical procedure, medics say.

Greater than 8,000 personal beds in England have been purchased up by ministers in March, in anticipation of NHS hospitals being overwhelmed by the Covid-19 outbreak. 

However the well being service’s intensive care wards weren’t overrun through the peak of the pandemic and nearly all of the personal beds went unused.

As much as a fifth of routine operations on the NHS have been additionally postponed to make method for a surge in virus sufferers, leading to tens of hundreds of sufferers enduring delays to remedy.

Personal hospitals are actually meant to be working as ‘Covid-free hubs’ to get again up and operating for weak individuals, together with most cancers sufferers.

However a senior marketing consultant mentioned right this moment ‘only a few’ of those sufferers have been being referred to the personal hospitals, leaving them virtually fully empty.

It has meant ‘tens of hundreds’ of most cancers sufferers – who want pressing remedy to spice up their survival charges – are lacking out on very important remedy each month.

Private hospitals taken over by NHS at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds to fight the coronavirus pandemic are ¿sinfully empty¿, claim medics. Pictured: The ICU wards at the hastily built Nightingale Hospital have barely been used throughout the crisis

Personal hospitals taken over by NHS at a value of a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of kilos to battle the coronavirus pandemic are ‘sinfully empty’, declare medics. Pictured: The ICU wards on the unexpectedly constructed Nightingale Hospital have barely been used all through the disaster

Professor Karol Sikora (pictured) is consultant oncologist and professor of medicine, University of Buckingham Medical School

Professor Karol Sikora (pictured) is marketing consultant oncologist and professor of drugs, College of Buckingham Medical College

Karol Sikora, a marketing consultant oncologist and professor of drugs on the College of Buckingham Medical College, informed MailOnline: ‘As soon as it turned clear the personal beds wouldn’t be wanted for Covid sufferers, the concept was to make use of personal hospitals as Covid-free zones. However that has solely partly materialised. 

‘As a result of the NHS is just not doing surgical procedures, hundreds of cancers are going undiagnosed. Surgical procedure is required in some instances to diagnose somebody with the illness and get them began on their remedy.

‘As a result of the sufferers are usually not being recognized, they aren’t coming by the system.



Greater than 8million individuals can be caught on NHS surgical procedure ready lists by autumn as a result of remedy delays as a result of Covid-19, specialists concern.

Final August there have been a record-high 4.41million sufferers in England on ready lists for routine operations.

However that quantity is anticipated to greater than double due to a backlog triggered by the Covid-19 disaster, in line with the Nuffield Belief.

Nigel Edwards, its chief govt, final month informed MPs hospitals have solely been in a position to perform round ’15 to 20 per cent’ of elective procedures.

His declare got here on the again of a separate research by well being analysts, which predicted 7.2million individuals can be on ready lists by autumn.


Virtually 2.5million sufferers have missed out on very important most cancers assessments and remedy due to the pandemic.

The NHS faces the surprising backlog of instances because it tries to return to regular – and in addition address new victims of the illness.

Most cancers Analysis UK says 2.1million sufferers are awaiting essential screening for breast, cervical and bowel most cancers.

One other 290,000 have missed out on pressing referrals to substantiate or rule out tumours.

‘We all know there needs to be 30,000 new most cancers sufferers each month – however this month there have been lower than 5,000 which have come for remedy.

‘It is not that there are much less individuals with most cancers, it is that they aren’t being recognized due to a bottleneck within the NHS.

‘The entire thing has set us again a yr, no different nation has struggled this a lot to open healthcare again up. I do not know what’s behind the bottleneck, possibly it is a staffing challenge.’  

Senior clinicians at personal hospitals declare a whole bunch of the nation’s greatest docs have been left ‘twiddling their thumbs’ through the outbreak – placing individuals’s well being in danger from different sicknesses and postponed operations.

It has left personal sufferers with no choice however to affix enormous NHS ready lists triggered by the pandemic.

Nigel Edwards, chief govt of the Nuffield Belief think-tank, mentioned hospitals have solely been in a position to perform round ’15 to 20 per cent’ of surgical procedures, that means as much as 1.3million sufferers are lacking out each month. 

In a single case, a 78-year-old girl with breast most cancers was denied surgical procedure at a non-public clinic by the native NHS supervisor despite the fact that the hospital was empty, in line with The Instances. The affected person was as a substitute referred again to the NHS. 

Most cancers Analysis says virtually 2.5million sufferers have missed out on very important most cancers assessments and remedy as a result of surprising backlogs through the disaster.

Medical our bodies final night time mentioned the most important risk to the nation’s well being was the dearth of healthcare fairly than coronavirus itself.   


A father with terminal most cancers continues to be ready for surgical procedure two months after it was cancelled the day earlier than it was as a result of happen.

Glynne Pugh, 68, has bowel most cancers and was given 12 months to dwell final November. He was as a result of have an operation at St James’s College Hospital in Leeds on March 23.

His household have been informed the postponement was as a result of closure of the working theatre for coronavirus coaching. 

Mr Pugh’s son Bradley, 32, mentioned on the time: ‘It was simply devastating – mum and pop have been fully in shock and clearly tearful. As a household we perceive how a lot strain the NHS is below, however we really feel that, as dad’s operation is life or loss of life, the most cancers would possibly unfold. There may be solely about six months left, that’s the issue.’

Glynne Pugh, 68, pictured above with his son Brad, has bowel cancer and was given 12 months to live last November. He was due to have an operation at St James¿s University Hospital in Leeds on March 23

Glynne Pugh, 68, pictured above along with his son Brad, has bowel most cancers and was given 12 months to dwell final November. He was as a result of have an operation at St James’s College Hospital in Leeds on March 23

His father has survived most cancers twice earlier than and his household insist he’s sturdy sufficient to endure remedy once more, however the operation stays very important. 

‘There was hope there for the entire household, which was everybody was holding out for,’ mentioned Bradley, of Stroud, Gloucestershire. 

Richard Packard, chairman of the Federation of Unbiased Practitioner Organisations, which represents personal consultants, informed The Times: ‘The cash being poured into the personal sector is a complete waste. 

‘The NHS can not afford to subsidise personal hospitals and nor ought to it need to. Likewise, the UK merely can not afford to permit medical and surgical capability to sit down idle while pathology and ready lists construct and sufferers undergo.’

One London-based personal marketing consultant orthopaedic surgeon mentioned final month there was a ‘sinful’ and ‘surprising’ mass of empty personal hospitals and empty beds.

‘Most of them are gathering mud, with an entire load of docs twiddling their thumbs. And it is costing the NHS thousands and thousands.’

The surgeon mentioned solely ’emergency’ and ‘time-critical’ operations have been being allowed at his hospital.

A second medic mentioned his hospital was ‘pretty empty and below used’ whereas one other mentioned he was ‘fairly bored’. ‘I’m not sure if the hospitals are being utilized in essentially the most environment friendly method,’ he admitted.

A fourth physician mentioned personal hospitals in north London have been ‘largely empty’ regardless of repeated gives to assist out with sufferers from overrun NHS wards. 

In March it appeared the NHS would possibly want each ventilator and intensive care mattress, with some scientists warning that tens of hundreds can be dying every single day.

‘It was the best factor to do on the time as we had to have a look at what was taking place in Italy and Spain and react accordingly,’ mentioned one medic.

One other physician added: ‘Making ready for an epidemic is a really tough steadiness. In case you get it proper, it is by pure luck.’

Nevertheless, he warned that extra individuals might find yourself dying early of sicknesses like most cancers and coronary heart illness: ‘At what level does the price of this ‘medical lockdown’ to individuals’s well being outweigh the advantages?’

Some personal hospitals are reportedly in talks to increase their NHS contracts that put them below public management – as a security internet in case of a resurgence in Covid admissions.

One marketing consultant informed The Instances this association suited personal hospitals as a result of it meant the taxpayer was overlaying the salaries of senior employees.

Personal hospitals’ skill to make revenue can be severely hampered when these offers finish.

Social distancing measures, a scarcity of PPE and new cleansing regimes will imply they should function at drastically diminished capability.


For three years Joanna Addis has acquired cutting-edge medicine to maintain her breast most cancers from rising.

However in April the 54-year-old was informed her remedy was to be paused for 3 months.

Her remedy – a mixture of the medicine palbociclib and letrozole – was considered too harmful to take through the pandemic as a result of it depresses the immune system.

Fears: Joanna Addis lives with her husband Volky in Stockport

Fears: Joanna Addis lives together with her husband Volky in Stockport

Mrs Addis, who lives in Stockport with husband Volky, had been taking the remedy since 2017 after surgical procedure failed to regulate her most cancers.

‘I attempt not to consider what’s going to occur over the following two months, however I do fear about what my scan in June will present,’ she mentioned. ‘If my illness was to progress, I’d really feel like I had wasted a remedy choice and the time it might have given me.

‘Putting off such a useful remedy not due to my most cancers changing into unresponsive, however due to the danger of the virus, doesn’t appear truthful. I ended up in hospital quickly after I got here off palbociclib as ache in my proper hip turned so extreme that I couldn’t stroll, which felt like an excessive amount of of a coincidence on the time.

‘Fortunately, no most cancers development was discovered, however I do actually fear what might occur if I want to remain off the remedy for even longer.

‘Every little thing simply feels so out of my management in the mean time, which is actually tough.’

Underneath new Authorities steerage, any affected person who goes to hospital for an operation should isolate at dwelling for 2 weeks beforehand and take assessments upon arrival. 

NHS England was unable to supply any information on what number of personal beds have been getting used however a spokesman mentioned ‘tens of hundreds of sufferers’ had been handled. 

They added: ‘Whereas the precedence for personal hospital beds was to offer surge capability for coronavirus sufferers ought to it have been wanted, that means it’s a mark of success that a few of this has not been wanted, with numbers of coronavirus inpatients falling, personal hospitals are actually more and more enjoying their half in bringing NHS companies again safely.’

In the meantime, Most cancers Analysis says 2.1million sufferers are nonetheless awaiting essential screening for breast, cervical and bowel most cancers as a result of backlog within the NHS.

One other 290,000 have missed out on pressing referrals to substantiate or rule out tumours, and at the very least 21,600 sufferers have had lifesaving surgical procedure, chemotherapy or radiotherapy postponed.  

Medical doctors say most personal hospitals are nonetheless fully empty, others have been finishing up just one operation per day.

Some personal hospitals are actually getting used as ‘Covid-free’ hubs to deal with most cancers sufferers and conduct different surgical procedures on sufferers weak to the virus.

However the Federation of Unbiased Practitioner Organisations branded this a ‘gross under-utilisation’ of capability. 

Even earlier than the virus took off within the UK in March, most cancers ready occasions have been at their worst since information started in 2010 with understaffed hospitals struggling to manage.

Because of this sufferers who’ve already waited months for a most cancers analysis or remedy will face a ‘bottleneck’ in accessing care.

The NHS now faces the surprising backlog of instances because it tries to return to regular – and in addition address new victims of the illness.

Hospitals can be additional constrained by strict an infection management measures that imply solely restricted numbers can have CT or MRI scans every day as machines should be completely cleaned. Chemotherapy may also be restricted to a couple sufferers at a time as a result of social-distancing guidelines. 

The numbers awaiting most cancers remedy are extraordinarily worrying, in line with Sarah Woolnough, coverage chief at Most cancers Analysis UK.


Extra sufferers might quickly be handled on the NHS Nightingale Hospital amid frustration from medics that it’s being ‘underused’.

The massive 3,600-bed subject hospital, which was in-built simply 9 days at London’s ExCel Centre, has admitted solely 40 coronavirus sufferers. 

However in a leaked letter, NHS boss Sir David Sloman mentioned the variety of intensive care beds in use can be elevated to 84 ‘within the subsequent few weeks’, plus 14 beds for sufferers who’re recovering from the Covid-19 virus.

The hospital might stay open for 18 months to ease strain on NHS hospitals.

She added: ‘We’ll have this enormous backlog to clear. It is a large backlog of companies and remedy to ship. It is completely enormous, it is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.’

Professor Charles Swanton, Most cancers Analysis’s chief clinician, mentioned: ‘My colleagues and I’ve seen the devastating impression of this pandemic on each sufferers and NHS employees. Delays to analysis and remedy might imply that some cancers will turn out to be inoperable.’

The longer a affected person waits to be recognized and handled for most cancers, the larger the probability their tumours will unfold to different tissues and organs to the extent they turn out to be inoperable.

Most cancers Analysis’s information exhibits that throughout the UK, 12,800 sufferers have missed out on surgical procedure, 6,000 on chemotherapy and one other 2,800 on radiotherapy.

The figures for surgical procedure are notably worrying as a result of these procedures would in any other case take away tumours which will now have grown or unfold.

Many hospitals have delayed chemotherapy, radiotherapy or operations to take away tumours to allow them to deal with a surge in virus instances, in addition to to chop most cancers sufferers’ threat of changing into contaminated after they are available in.

On the similar time, sufferers with worrying signs, together with lumps on their breasts or frequent urination, which might be an indication of prostate most cancers, have been reluctant to make appointments with GPs.

Some household docs haven’t been sending sufferers to hospital for sure diagnostic assessments as they’ve additionally been halted, notably procedures to detect bowel most cancers.

Routine screening for breast, cervical and bowel most cancers has been suspended in most areas over the previous two months regardless of being essential for detecting early stage tumours.

Lynda Thomas of Macmillan Most cancers Assist mentioned: ‘Lengthy earlier than the pandemic hit, most cancers ready occasions have been at their worst. Because the coronavirus outbreak, it’s has turn out to be even more durable for individuals with most cancers to get the care and assist they want and their anxieties have multiplied.’

Baroness Delyth Morgan of the charity Breast Most cancers Now mentioned: ‘It is extraordinarily regarding to listen to of the most important impacts the pandemic continues to have on hundreds of individuals affected by most cancers. The outbreak has led to many individuals’s most cancers remedy being paused or delayed, an especially worrying drop within the variety of individuals being referred to see a most cancers specialist, hundreds of screening appointments being cancelled and a few scientific trials being paused.’  

Source link


Leave a Reply