Britain agreed a deal with private healthcare providers on Saturday to free up beds and medical services for the state-run health system as one emergency doctor warned the country could suffer a worse fate than Italy during the coronavirus crisis.
Britain had suffered 177 deaths due to Covid-19 as of late Friday, with the number of confirmed infections rising to 3,983.
Government health experts say tens of thousands of British people are probably infected.
Italy’s coronavirus crisis is the world’s deadliest, with more than 4,000 fatalities.
In a bid to ease the pressure in Britain, the National Health Service (NHS) has announced that thousands more beds, ventilators and extra healthcare staff will be available from the private sector from next week, the Press Association reported.
“We’re dealing with an unprecedented global health threat and are taking immediate and exceptional action to gear up.
“The NHS is doing everything in its power to expand treatment capacity and is working with partners right across the country to do so,” NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said.
The private sector is reallocating almost its entire hospital capacity to the NHS and will be reimbursed at cost.
The news came after warnings from a senior emergency doctor about how bad things could get in Britain.
The doctor, who did not want to give his name, told Britain’s Sky News that the state-run health system could be “completely swamped” by demand.
“I’m aware of the Italian system, and I think in quite a few ways they are in advance of us in terms of resources and the intensive care beds they had available prior to this occurring.
“So I think we may actually end up in a worse state than they presently are unless we take sufficient measures right now.
“We know what’s coming, and we know what’s coming is extremely big,” the British doctor said.
The British government, which made a series of huge economic commitments in recent days to try to mitigate the financial fallout from the crisis, has also moved to try to stop the hoarding of goods.
Environment Minister George Eustice told a daily government press conference that there was no shortage of food in Britain, with manufacturers increasing production by 50 per cent.
“Be responsible when you shop and think of others.
“Buying more than you need means others may be left without.
“We all have a role to play in ensuring we all come through this together,” he was quoted as saying by PA.
Pubs, restaurants and clubs were shut around the country on Friday for the foreseeable future as the government took further action to engineer social distancing after widespread fears that not enough people were taking the pandemic seriously enough.
Now with millions in lockdown at home, a stable in London says it is receiving big demand for its offer to bring ponies to people’s windows.
The contactless visits are designed to calm residents.