North London Partners in health and care

NCL response to Covid system pressures

Pressures on the health and care system in north central London continue unabated, with 51% of all acute inpatients now Covid positive and unprecedented demand for critical care beds.

Acute providers

Our acute hospital providers have demonstrated fantastic levels of teamwork and mutual support to tackle the extremely high levels of pressure to continue to provide high quality care.


All hospitals are working with huge flexibility to increase intensive care and general and acute capacity for Covid patients, repurpose facilities and redeploy staff to where they are most needed.

Overall, we are currently at 187% of our usual critical care bed capacity, having increased our adult critical care bed capacity from 152 to 284, with UCLH and Royal Free Hospital (RFH) expanding to 119 and 90 beds respectively. Meanwhile, general and acute beds have increased by 409, an increase of 19%. We have consistently met NHS England requests to expand our capacity thanks to the great collaboration and teamwork across our NHS trusts.

UCLH has been running a highly effective critical care transfer team and is taking a significant number of transfers from other sites, while Royal Free London is providing specialist renal services for the system for patients. 

Specialist providers

We’ve also had exceptional support from our specialist providers, helping to relieve pressures on our busy hospitals. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) has opened 10 additional intensive care beds and 64 general and acute beds, while keeping two elective theatres running for cancer and other urgent surgery. RNOH staff have provided continuous support to the transfer teams and supported the Royal Free Hospital and North Middlesex Hospital (NMUH). 

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has been sending a range of staff to support across the system, including AHPs, doctors, over 75 nurses and one team from the child and adolescent transfer service (CATS) to support transfers across the system. GOSH has also provided paediatric services for NMUH, enabling them to change their paediatric ward into an adult ward to accommodate additional Covid patients. GOSH has continued to provide high priority paediatric services throughout the surge and has supported other London sectors as well as NCL.

Meanwhile, over 250 Moorfields staff, including nurses, medical students, doctors, technical and support staff have been redeployed. Staff have been sent to RFH to support critical care capacity and UCLH to support ward capacity. Moorfields has been working closely with Barnet Haringey and Enfield Mental Health Trust to open an additional 36 community beds at the Highlands Wing, Chase Farm Hospital to help step-down Covid-19 patients and relieve pressure from hospitals across NCL. Moorfields staff are also supporting the vaccination programme and have been receiving high risk ophthalmic activity from across the whole of London. 

Independent Sector

The independent sector has been an invaluable source of support throughout the pandemic, having provided support to keep cancer and urgent non-cancer elective services going during the first wave and during recovery period.

During the recent pressures, independent sector colleagues have supported NCL by creating space for five Covid critical care patients and providing staff who can be redeployed.

Ambulance Services

London Ambulance Service and East of England Ambulance service have provided vital support in diverting patients from pressured hospital sites and been flexible in working with changing diverts on a daily basis to best smooth demand and balance pressures across the system.


We will receive 40 military staff from this weekend to work as non-registered intensive care support staff at the Royal Free Hospital.

A massive thank you to all the staff, volunteers and students from across the system for your ongoing hard work, flexibility and resilience in the face of continued challenges