Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich declares an internal incident “as a precautionary measure” over oxygen supplies

A hospital has declared a major incident over fears about a shortage in oxygen caused by the demand from Covid-19 patients on its wards.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), in Woolwich, asked London Ambulance Service to take emergency patients to other hospitals on Sunday amid concerns about the flow of oxygen to patients.

Some patients are being diverted to King’s College and St Thomas’s Hospitals in Camberwell and Waterloo respectively.

The procedure comes amid a surge in new coronavirus infections and hospital admissions in the capital.

The 500-bed QEH, part of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, called in extra staff on Sunday – the incident was declared at around 1pm.

The hospital, which is still in a major incident as of Monday lunchtime, continued to accept children and cardiac arrest patients.

It called in extra staff on Sunday to cope with the situation – it is thought the numbers of coronavirus patients needed more oxygen than the pipes and infrastructure can deliver to the wards.

More oxygen is currently being used because instead of being ventilated, many patients are being given special masks which use more oxygen than a ventilator. Routine patients also have their own oxygen needs.

A Twitter statement from the trust said at 8pm today: “As you may have heard, we declared an internal incident at QEH as a precautionary measure. All patients continue to receive the care they need, including oxygen therapy as required. We continue to monitor the situation to ensure this remains the case.”


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