Staff at University College Hospital are facing a very difficult and critical period where they will be stretched to the limit and maybe beyond, dealing with an increasing number of Covid-19 patients.

Hospital sign.
UCH in Fitzrovia is under increasing pressure to treat Covid-19 patients needing intensive care.

Last week a BBC News team was allowed to film inside the intensive care unit at the hospital on Euston Road to report on the enormous strain staff are under as the number of critical care patients continues to rise.

On Friday Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared a “major incident” due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus across London and the increase of Covid-19 cases in hospitals, which has left the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed.

The chief executive of University College London Hospitals (UCLH), Prof Marcel Levi, said that the hospital is converting wards to increase capacity for critical care.

Elaine Thorpe, a critical care matron at the hospital, told the Guardian newspaper that she was “dreadfully worried about my team”. 

The hospital has appealed to Londoners to follow government guidelines and to stay at home.

However, many health professionals are critical of the way the government is managing the crisis. Despite the roll out of a vaccine many scientists say the virus is likely to be around for the long term and a change of strategy is needed.

“Having 20 million people vaccinated is likely to help reduce numbers of cases but we must not forget that this is a highly transmissible virus and if we do not continue with social measures, it will soon whip round communities again and cause havoc,” said Liam Smeeth, professor of clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in Bloomsbury.

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