Day oxygen almost ran out at first NHS trust to treat Covid patients

At one point, alarms sounded as oxygen levels plummeted at its main Hampstead hospital due to the vast number of patients on breathing support. But the documentary, a two-part special edition of the Hospital series, also shows how the entire trust transformed itself in a matter of days to save hundreds of lives as admissions soared across the capital. The programmes, to be broadcast next Monday and Tuesday, reveal that doctors across the trust were advised to try to reduce the rate that oxygen was administered to patients to conserve supplies. Dr David Levy, caring for a critically ill patient at Barnet hospital, said: “Who would have thought that we would be concerned about running out of the air we breathe, oxygen? One heartbreaking scene shows a professor of surgery breaking down in tears after telling the wife of a transplant patient - who had recently received a new kidney - that he had deteriorated and had to be placed on a ventilator. Another scene shows a 22-year-old pregnant woman with Covid-19 undergoing an emergency caesarean as her condition deteriorated – the first baby born at the Royal Free in the coronavirus era, with maternity staff in full PPE. Doctors told the Standard they hope the two hour-long programmes will show the outstanding teamwork that kept the hospital open and saved hundreds of lives. 1,000 staff absences at peak of crisis Dr Tim Lockie, a consultant cardiologist, said that younger patients who had been sent home from A&E a few days earlier and told to self-isolate had suddenly “crashed” and died. The viciousness of this virus and the way it attacks all different organ systems is very, very severe.” By last night, the trust had declared 448 coronavirus deaths, the second highest in London. Dr Sanjay Bhagani, an infectious diseases consultant who led the drug trial, told the Standard it was amazing how the Royal Free had rapidly changed its practices to cope with the pandemic. He said: “What we thought it was really important for people to understand is how the NHS responds at a time of crisis like this.” Dr Maggie Blott, the consultant obstetrician who performed the caesarean, said the maternity de-partment came under additional pressure when the labour ward was used to care for Covid-positive mothers who were in earlier stages of pregnancy.