NHS England left with no choice but go private during Omicron surge

Analysis: service forced into what is likely to be long-term marriage of convenience by scale of backlog

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Another day, another initiative to stop hospitals becoming overwhelmed by a combination of the Omicron surge and normal winter pressures. NHS England has struck a deal with private healthcare providers under which their hospitals will be ready to start treating NHS patients who cannot get the Covid or non-Covid care they need because their local NHS hospital is under too much pressure.

This follows the recent news that “mini-Nightingale” field hospitals are being built in the grounds of eight hospitals, that gyms and education centres in hospitals could be turned into overflow wards, and that thousands of Covid patients could be treated at home in “virtual wards”. Any or all of this could happen if the increase in Covid hospitalisations leads to a hospital trust or even entire region of the NHS deciding it needs “surge capacity”.

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