Private hospitals to help NHS find extra beds if Omicron surge hits Suffolk

Ipswich hospital sign, and inset Neill Moloney, acting chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

A deal has been struck between NHS chiefs and private hospitals to provide extra beds during the Omicron surge. Inset: Neill Moloney, acting chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: ARCHANT

Hospitals in the region will be able to use spare capacity in the private sector under a new deal struck by NHS chiefs. 

The three-month agreement, for an undisclosed sum, will see private healthcare staff and facilities put on standby to support the NHS should Covid cause unsustainable levels of hospital admissions or staff absences.

Talks are underway between health bosses to determine how private hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex will be able to help the NHS should a large number of patients need emergency care for Covid-19.

Neill Moloney, Acting Chief Executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT)

Neill Moloney, acting chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) - Credit: Archant

Neill Moloney, acting chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have an excellent relationship with private healthcare providers throughout Essex and Suffolk. 

"This nationally agreed support deal by private healthcare providers in the event of large numbers of patients needing urgent and emergency care for Covid-19, is very welcome.

"We will be holding detailed talks with private healthcare providers in the coming days”.

There are no routine figures for how many doctors and nurses from the NHS also work in private hospitals.

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In the announcement, NHS England said the patients who can be referred to private firms under the deal include some of those waiting for cancer surgery.

The NHS has also been asked to look at using spare capacity in gyms and education centres to create “super surge” wards on top of their usual surge capacity.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “NHS staff continue to go above and beyond to ensure people get the treatment they need this winter and our support for the NHS through this challenging period remains at full throttle.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid meets staff in a Covid Intensive Care Unit during a visit to Kings Coll

Health Secretary Sajid Javid meets staff in a Covid Intensive Care Unit during a visit to Kings College Hospital in London. - Credit: PA

“This agreement demonstrates the collaboration across our health care services to create an additional safeguard that ensures people can continue to get the care they need from our world-leading NHS, whenever they need it.

“I encourage everyone to keep doing their bit to look after themselves and their loved ones and, most importantly, for all those eligible, to get boosted now.”

According to NHS England, more than 470,000 NHS day cases, almost 2.8m surgical procedures and more than 500,000 diagnostic tests have been carried out in the private sector in the last year.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been approached for comment.

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