Two Southwark hospitals who treat children in intensive care units have been told to only treat urgent cases due to a lack of available beds.
In an email from NHS regional director Will Huxter, hospitals in London who provide the services were asked to delay some planned operations to free up space for emergencies.
Paediatric Intensive Care is a specialised service which is provided in seven hospital across London, with more than half of the demand for the beds being unplanned and higher admissions during winter.
Dr Mark Spencer, NHS England (London) Medical Director, said: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS and we manage this by carefully monitoring demand for services, like paediatric intensive care beds.
“During these busy periods, it is not unusual for hospitals to reduce planned surgery particularly where intensive care is required which is why we have sought confirmation from London’s hospitals that they are taking action.
“This is to ensure that the sickest patients can receive the care they need when they need it most.”
Because of the unplanned nature of this service and because some children require specific treatment which is not provided in all hospitals they have to travel to receive the specialist care they need. A national review of paediatric intensive care is currently underway and will consider how best to ensure that children are seen in the right place, at the right time and close to home wherever possible.
King’s College Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital said they did not wish to add anything to NHS England’s response.
London Hospitals that provide child ICU services
St Mary’s, Paddington
The Royal Brompton
Evelina London Children’s hospital
King’s College Hospital
St George’s Hospital
Great Ormond Street
The Royal London