Can the NHS cope with coronavirus crisis?

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan

The NHS will be tested to its limit in Intensive Care Units across the nation as the coronavirus crisis continues.

There are warnings that every unit could be full very soon due to the high demand, caused by patients in critical conditions.

"We know that the UK has about a quarter of critical care beds compared to nations like Germany, so it is so important that patients are targeted to prevent them falling ill," says Chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul.

At the very worst, the government is prepared for 80% of the population, 53m people, to get coronavirus.

Up to 5% of those to get it could be critical cases, which equates to 2.6m people.

Credit: ITV News

The UK has just over 4,000 intensive care beds, 2.1 per 1,000 people, much lower than Germany and France.

Many, if not all, critically ill patients will need ventilator support but there are just 5,000 available.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the NHS has been buying up ventilation equipment since the start of the crisis but more are required.

There have been calls for manufacturers to build more but the issue is buying parts quickly in order to construct new machines.

In addition to the lack of equipment, staffing issues are causing great concern, as many medical staff could become ill, and only specially trained staff can use much of the equipment.

Even if the much-needed ventilators can be produced, there is no certainty that there will be enough trained staff to operate them.

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