King George Hospital and Queen’s Hospital can only comfortably take 60 more critical care patients between them, according to reports prepared for a meeting last week.

The North East London Joint Commissioning Committee (NEL JCC) met on November 11 to discuss hospital capacity across the region.

Hospitals around the country are anticipating extra strain this winter, as the usual effect of flu season combines with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

During a meeting with Redbridge councillors on November 5, an NHS spokesperson confirmed one fifth of beds at the Ilford and Romford hospitals were occupied by Covid-patient patients.

Read more: Ilford woman judged 'low risk' at King George Hospital weeks before tragic death

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs both hospitals, is “60 beds short of… target occupancy”, even after opening 43 beds at King George.

A CCG spokesperson explained that “target occupancy” means the “comfortable (bed) occupancy to best enable flow through the hospital”.

According to the report, this estimate “does not take account of peaks and troughs in demand within each month” or “assumptions around a second Covid peak”.

The figure of 60 beds also “assumes full flexibility of the capacity that is not always operationally possible” due to the need to separate Covid and non-Covid patients.

The NHS is now considering opening 22 extra beds at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney and it is hoped the trust can reduce bed demand by 166 by treating more people outside hospital.

Read more: East London hospitals record highest Covid death tolls in London

There are almost 200 critical care beds across north east London but the potential to increase this to almost 450, mostly by increasing numbers at Royal London Hospital.

However, the report notes: “Reaching our full surge capacity will have implications on planned care as we will need to draw on theatres and anaesthetic staff.

“We will work collaboratively as a group of trusts to minimise the impact on electives, and to ensure that we clinically prioritise the most urgent elective activities.

“We will be reliant on the London-wide transfer service to safely move patients between hospitals across north east London.”

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