Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will join the NHS response to coronavirus after a deal with the private sector which will include 8,000 more hospital beds being made available.
National Health Service will also gain access to nearly 1,200 more ventilators and other critical care facilities that have come under intense pressure as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.
The deal will give the NHS access to 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and more than 8,000 other clinical staff.
In London, which has been hit the worst by the coronavirus outbreak, the NHS will now have access to 2000 hospital beds, and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said they were dealing with an “unprecedented global health threat.”
He said: “The NHS is doing everything in its power to expand treatment capacity, and is working with partners right across the country to do so.
“But it is absolutely vital that this is matched by successful and comprehensive adoption of the public measures needed to cut the spread of the virus.
“We all have to play our part to help offset the enormous pressure that our nurses, doctors and other specialists will otherwise face.”
Earlier in the week, NHS England suspended all non-urgent surgery for three months from 15 April to free up staff and up to 30,000 beds to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The private healthcare sector has said it will be provide the use of its capabilities to the NHS “at cost” – meaning without any profit – for a minimum of 14 weeks.
David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network said: “Independent hospitals are boosting emergency capacity to put at the disposal of the NHS over these coming weeks.
“We have worked hand-in-hand with the NHS for decades and will do whatever it takes to support the NHS in responding to this pandemic.”
Spire Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest private hospital operators, said the entire capacity of its 35 hospitals in England will be made available to the NHS from 30 March.
Spire said it will also be suspending non-urgent elective surgery for those above the age of 70 to protect vulnerable patients whilst also creating additional capacity to support the NHS.
Separately, tens of thousands of retired healthcare professionals are being urged to return to work to help the NHS through the pandemic.
Up to 65,000 former doctors and nurses are being told “your NHS needs you” in the hope they return to fight COVID-19.
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