‘Isolation hospitals’ were ‘too difficult’ for the UK’s health service to achieve

Newly-released minutes of a Nervtag meeting on June 10 record that John Edmunds, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “raised concerns that Covid-19 patients are not being separated sufficiently, for example by cohorting within separate isolation hospitals.”

Following the intervention by Prof Edmunds, a prominent attendee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), “the committee noted that whilst staff may be driving the transmission in hospitals, Covid-19 positive patients may act as a source for infection to healthcare workers, introducing infection to other staff and the community.

“It was suggested that cohorting patients in specialist Covid-19 hospitals or units could reduce the incidence of hospital transmission.”

“The Committee noted that the scale of the epidemic means that structural changes to the NHS might be necessary to control transmission and manage winter pressures.”

During the first wave of infections earlier this year, nine ‘Nightingale’ hospitals (see the first recovered patients leaving one, below) were set up to help the health service cope with the pandemic, including a 4,500-bed field hospital in London.  

But much of the additional capacity was for intensive care facilities, rather than A&E, high dependency units, and acute wards.

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