NHS planning for second covid peak more than double the size

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  • Planning is “contingency scenario”
  • But even a lower peak could challenge services for the next year
  • Not clear what it means for bed capacity

Health services in at least one of the NHS’s seven regions are preparing to cope with a second peak of coronavirus demand more than twice the size as the first.

However, the NHS in South East of England insisted this scenario was for contingency planning only and not based on a forecast or other intelligence.

Papers before clinical commissioning group governing bodies in Sussex say: “Systems in the south east [have] started to coalesce around being prepared for a second wave of between 2 and 2.5 [times] the first wave as a reasonable worst case scenario.” They say that more likely are lower peaks which nevertheless “continue to challenge services for at least the next year”.

The papers state they do not know the timing of the subsequent peak, citing predictions that it could either come imminently, or over the winter.

HSJ understands other NHS regions are also planning on the basis that a further peak of covid demand on the NHS could be larger than the first.

It is not yet clear what these predictions mean for the need to keep acute beds or intensive care capacity free, or limit planned procedures taking place so that capacity can be scrambled quickly.

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Source: HSJ