A LONDON hospital is on the brink of running out of life-saving oxygen for coronavirus patients.
A massive spike in people admitted to hospital with the deadly virus has put critical supplies at risk at a major NHS hospital.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
All NHS trusts in England were given an urgent warning to limit the number of people on mechanical ventilators and continuous positive airway pressure machines (CPAP), according to The Guardian.
The hospital, which has not been named, almost ran out of oxygen last weekend.
NHS England was so alarmed at the horrifyingly low levels of oxygen it wrote to hospital bosses to say the risk was a "critical safety concern" which would have major consequences.
The letter said urgent action was needed to ensure there was no risk of hospitals running short of oxygen supplies as they come under heavy demand as the outbreak spreads.
Coronavirus can cause life-threatening breathing complications meaning patients have to be put on ventilators to help them breathe.
But NHS England said a sudden increase in patients on breathing support could cause a hospital's oxygen supply to fail completely, cutting off critically ill patients from the help needed to fight the virus.
Hospitals never normally have a risk of oxygen running out, because so few people require ventilation at any one time.
But the letter from NHS England said: "During the coronavirus epidemic, a far greater proportion of patients will require (oxygen) therapy and ventilation, and this presents a clear and significant risk to oxygen delivery systems within hospital estates."
There is also another risk that hospitals liquid oxygen storage tank – known as its vacuum insulated evaporator – could be drained by huge spikes in patients on breathing support.
NHS England said both threats "present a potentially significant risk to multiple patients".
CPAP machines give patients non-invasive ventilation support through a face mask, whereas mechanical ventilators do all the breathing for the patient.
Mechanical ventilators are critical for patients who have entirely lost the ability to breathe for themselves.
NHS hospitals have been given tens of thousands of extra staff and more ventilators to help deal with the crisis.
Despite huge efforts from the private sector to manufacture ventilators, hospitals will only get an extra 30 next week, but it potentially needs tens of thousands more.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun's Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain's best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
NHS England said in the letter: “If the demand through multiple wall outlets (for wall-mounted CPAP machines) exceeds the maximum capacity of the VIE delivery system, there is a risk of rapid pressure drop in oxygen supply pipes.
“This could lead to a failure of oxygen delivery systems throughout the hospital, including to patients on face masks, CPAP, ventilators and (in) operating theatres. There is also a risk of rapid and unpredictable depletion of the VIE (storage tank).
“Both of these situations present a potentially significant risk to multiple patients simultaneously.”
Chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, Chris Hopson said: “This is a very serious matter.
“The particular characteristics of coronavirus mean that hospitals are likely to be using many more ventilators and much more oxygen than they normally do.
"We understand that the usage of CPAP machines on a systematic basis can use up significant amounts of oxygen. So it makes sense to highlight the risk of both how quickly oxygen supplies might be depleted and if that happens the potential risk to the core oxygen flow system.
“No hospital would want to knowingly run the risk of having all its oxygen throughout the hospital fail at once, because of the impact on the patients using the oxygen, because oxygen treatment is so central to life-saving care."
Source: Read Full Article