Hospitals running out of oxygen as desperate NHS staff beg Brits to stay home

Desperate hospital staff are begging Brits to "stay home" as they grapple with a serious oxygen shortage.

London's Queen Elizabeth Hospital has declared a major incident after having to turn away some emergency patients over the weekend due to concerns about diminishing oxygen supplies.

It's the latest facility in the capital to declare a major incident in the last 10 days amid rising infection rates.

Surging coronavirus cases are placing pressure on hospital supplies and equipment around the country, and the situation is expected to deteriorate further as the fallout from Christmas becomes clear in the weeks ahead.

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, a senior registrar who has advocated for the NHS throughout the pandemic, laid out the severity of the problem in a series of sobering tweets that have gone viral.

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"Things are really bad on the frontline and NHS doctors need help getting the word out," she wrote on social media on Monday evening.

"Hospitals are running out of oxygen. One trust has no non-invasive machines left. ICUs are tweeting for volunteers to prone patients.

"Transfer teams being requested to move patients 65+ miles to nearest hospital with critical care capacity.

"Please. Stay at home if you can."

She went on to say NHS staff are "at breaking point" as there are now more Covid-19 patients in hospital than ever before, and desperate trusts are trying to recruit medical students for help in the ICU.

Despite this, Dr Batt-Rawden said health workers who speak up about the disaster online are being abused by conspiracy theorists.

"When staff have spoken up on Twitter they have been told this is all a hoax," she added.

"It's not. Try holding an iPad for a patient to say goodbye to their family. Or having to a ventilate a colleague. This is real & happening right now. Staff are broken and need support now more than ever."

NHS England has been approached for comment.

A new coronavirus strain thought to be 70% more infectious than its predecessor is believed to be behind the current surge in cases, causing more hospitalisations than the infrastructure can cope with.

Many more Covid-19 patients are now being treated with special masks that use more oxygen than ventilators, contributing to the shortage in the vital resource.

NHS England has said it will spend £15 million on upgrading oxygen supplies at some hospitals.

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