After years of cuts – this is all it will take to completely overwhelm the NHS

12th March 2020 / United Kingdom
This is all it takes to completely overwhelm the NHS

On the last quarter of last year, nearly 90,000 full-time jobs for NHS were advertised. Hospital beds are now half what they were 30 years ago. The government is stating it will give to the NHS ‘whatever it takes’ to cope with the impending virus and yet even the very lowest of expected numbers mean the NHS will be totally submerged in serious CoVid-19 virus cases within about 6 to 8 weeks.


On any single day in December 2019, there were 25,573 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents in England published. Between 1 October 2019 – 31 December 2019 there were 88,631 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents in England. Of these 84 per cent (74,499) were permanent and 16 per cent (14,131) were fixed-term. The data is provided by digitalNHS and is regarded as accurate as much as any other statistics available.

Over 14,000 medics from the EU have left the health service since the EU referendum and to confirm that fall is directly related to Brexit – there has been an 87 per cent fall in new applications from medics from the EU since June 2016. The own goal here is the NHS is desperate for well-trained medics and those from the EU were not only trained at someone else’s expense – but unlike from many countries around the world – were trained to standards acceptable to the NHS.

Most alarmingly right now, it will take time to reverse the dramatic shortages in trained NHS staff, after what Helen Buckingham, director of strategy and operations at the think tank Nuffield Trust, calls “10 years of underfunding and a failure to understand staffing”.

As for the impending Covid-19 virus, no one thinks we’re going to be able to replicate the Chinese government’s feat of building and somehow staffing hospitals in a matter of weeks.


It is estimated that up to 80% of the population is susceptible to the virus and that 5% of those who do may need intensive care. That’s about 2.6 million people, in a worst-case scenario. The NHS has only 4000 intensive care beds, and about four-fifths of them are already occupied. For those requiring hospitalisation but not intensive care, the problem is the NHS has lost far too many beds in the last 10 years and right now has 43,000 fully trained nurses fewer than it needs, as large numbers left a completely demoralised service.

The sad reality is this. The NHS has only 800 intensive care beds available at any one time as all the others are taken with normal day-to-day demand by very ill patients.

At 60 per cent infection rate (by 5 per cent hospitalisation rate) the NHS will need 2 million intensive care beds.

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At 40 per cent, the NHS needs 1.34 million IC beds.

At 20 per cent, the NHS needs 670,000 IC beds.

At 10 per cent, the NHS needs 330,000 IC beds

At 5 per cent, the NHS needs 167,500 IC beds

At just 1 per cent infection rate, the NHS still needs 33,500 intensive care beds – short by 32,700.

In reality, at the rates anticipated, the NHS can only afford for about 16,000 people across the entire population to get infected as that small number will still require 800 intensive care beds.

No modern government in the world, no health service, no public or private health organisation, governing or advisory body anywhere is stating that the infection rate will lower than 40 per cent.



In 1988, the NHS had a total of 300,000 hospital beds. Today it has fallen more than 50 per cent to 140,000. If every single person occupying a hospital bed was kicked out tomorrow, all that is needed to fill them back up and all intensive care beds along with hospital corridors is an infection rate of 5 per cent of the population. At that point, the entire NHS will be totally overwhelmed by one virus.

According to one report, the government is arranging the delivery of temporary ‘pop-up’ morgues with “internal racking” and “built-in refrigeration units.” These can be transported to existing NHS mortuary sites.

Councils will choose between ordering a single morgue holding 48 bodies, or a block of four modules holding 107. At just 40 per cent infection rate, well over 11,000 48-body temporary morgues will be required.

In another report, local authorities were reportedly emailed about ‘additional body storage capacity’ for 15,000 corpses in the event of a more severe outbreak. But even then, at an infection rate of just 10 per cent (of the total population at 67m) 6,7 million will contract the virus of which it is estimated 2 per cent will die – and therefore 134,000 body bags with additional morgue storage will be required.

Either CoVid-19 is over-blown by the government and/or the media – or the government is woefully under-prepared for the advice given by the scientists and experts they sought the information from in the first place.


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