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Inside the NHS's war on coronavirus: First footage shows how UK medics are dealing with the pandemic

Inside the NHS's war on coronavirus: First footage shows how UK medics are dealing with the pandemic
  • A glimpse inside Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) showcases health workers' daily grind on the front line 
  • Medics working in the so-called 'red zone' described being emotionally drained and scared about their safety
  • Tonight's report included dire warnings from medics concerned about dwindling oxygen supplies 
First-time camera access to NHS intensive care units has laid bare the mounting pressure being loaded upon medics treating coronavirus patients.
A glimpse inside Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) showcases health workers' daily grind on the front line, which they described as emotionally draining and 'scary'. 
Tonight's reports from the BBC and ITV from the so-called 'red zone' - where the sickest patients are cared for - included dire warnings from medics concerned about dwindling oxygen supplies as the NHS creaks under the pressure of new infections.
Cases and fatalities continue to climb, and the UK today sadly declared a further 439 deaths, taking the toll to 5,373, while the number of patients rose by 3,802 to 51,608.
In a glimmer of hope after a dark week for Britain, the number of people dying of COVID-19 has now fallen for two days in a row and dropped 30 per cent from 621 yesterday.   
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the virus-stricken Prime Minister, confirmed the figures at this afternoon's Downing Street press briefing. 
Number 10 tonight confirmed that Boris Johnson had been moved to intensive care in St Thomas' hospital after being admitted for tests last night as a precaution. A spokesperson said Dominic Raab would deputise for him as his 'persistent' coronavirus symptoms worsen.
On another difficult day in the UK's war on coronavirus: 
  • Humiliated Nicola Sturgeon has admitted the effort to combat coronavirus has been damaged after she was forced to accept the resignation of Scotland's chief medical officer for flouting her own lockdown rules; 
  • Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is out of self-isolation and has been working after recovering from coronavirus;   
  • Worrying figures showed the UK's coronavirus epidemic was set to overtake that suffered by France and Italy; 
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock threatened to revoke the right to exercise outdoors if people continued to flout social distancing measures;
  • The Prime Minister's spokesperson confirmed that sunbathing in public is not allowed and flouts rules allowing only essential movement;
  • Top scientists said it would take at least a month for the UK to develop antibody tests that could be rolled out widely to check who has had the virus already;
  • A report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre has found that ethnic minority people are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus. 
A glimpse inside Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) showcases health workers' daily grind on the front line, which they described as emotionally draining and potentially perilous


Coronavirus patient Linda New, who was today discharged after a stint in intensive care said 'never in a million years' did she think the effects of the disease would be so debilitating
Coronavirus patient Linda New, who was today discharged after a stint in intensive care said 'never in a million years' did she think the effects of the disease would be so debilitating
One nurse working in the RBH ward, where two people died overnight, said she was worried about her own wellbeing after several NHS health workers passed away with the infection.
Ami Curtis, a staff nurse at the RBH, told ITV News: 'I have asthma, but we have a duty to our patients. It is scary, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared.'
She said she was even suffering eczema on her hands after washing them so frequently.  
Tonight's exclusive report also revealed that 'every death takes its toll' on the NHS workers, and spoke to night manager Ella Gordula, who became emotional when discussing two fatalities in the past 24-hours.
The footage showed an intensely busy ward bustling with medics all wearing personal protective equipment.
Everyone has to wear face-masks and gowns because each new patient displaying symptoms is assumed to have the virus, even if they have not been tested.
A patient battling coronavirus in London's University College Hospital, revealed in harrowing footage taken by the BBC inside the hospital
A busy ward at UCL, with facemask-wearing medics looking after patients in the London hospital amid the coronavirus outbreak
The BBC's Fergus Walsh showed NHS staff treating patients inside intensive care at University College Hospital in London
Ms Thorpe told the BBC that the intensive care unit was more busy than it had been in the aftermath of the London bombings
 BBC that the intensive care unit was more busy than it had been in the aftermath of the London bombings
Medics also feared a shortage in oxygen, which is rapidly dwindling amid spikes in Covid-19 admissions.
Michelle Scott, a critical consultant in the so-called 'red zone', said in normal times such vital supplies would never be threatened, but the NHS is creaking under the strain of the crisis.
One coronavirus patient who was today discharged after a stint in intensive care said 'never in a million years' did she think the effects of the disease would be so debilitating.
Linda New, a hos was clapped out by staff as she left the hospital, said: 'I just wanted to get through it for my children. Without this lot I would never have done it. They're so so good.'
Another patient, Alan Hunt, 62, who has been in the intensive care unit (ICU) for eight days, underlined the exhausting effects of the illness.
One nurse working in the so-called 'red zone' (entrance to ICU pictured), where two people died overnight, said she was worried about her own wellbeing after several NHS health workers passed away with the infection
The footage showed an intensely busy ward bustling with medics all wearing personal protective equipment
Everyone has to wear face-masks and gowns because each new patient displaying symptoms is assumed to have the virus, even if they have not been tested

He said:  It's so easy to catch and you can't get rid once you got it. It infected both my lungs, I'm on the repair but I'm still getting out of breath doing anything at all.' 
The BBC's Fergus Walsh showed NHS staff treating patients inside intensive care at University College Hospital in London. 
Harrowing footage showed doctors monitoring patients strapped to ventilators as they battled the virus.  
Elaine Thorpe, the hospital's matron for critical care told BBC News at Six: 'I have been an intensive care nurse for about 23 years now and I have never seen anything like this - even the London bombings.seen it in such a short, condensed period of time.'
At the hospital, 43 people have died from coronavirus since the outbreak began with some staff suffering panic attacks as they try to cope with the pandemic. 
The victims in the ward are critically ill, with footage showing them heavily sedated by the doctors treating them. 
Dr Jim Down, a critical care consultant at the hospital, said: 'It is completely unimaginable. We can't cope with a big spike (in patient numbers) - we just can't.'
He also shared his surprise at the number of 'young and fit' people have been struck down with the illness.  
The government is urgently trying to crank up the capacity of the country's ICU's as the UK approaches the peak of its epidemic.
At UCL hospital, 43 people have died from coronavirus since the outbreak began with some staff suffering panic attacks as they try to cope with the pandemic
At UCL hospital, 43 people have died from coronavirus since the outbreak began with some staff suffering panic attacks as they try to cope with the pandemic
The victims in the ward are critically ill, with footage showing them heavily sedated by the doctors treating them and hooked up to ventilators
The victims in the ward are critically ill, with footage showing them heavily sedated by the doctors treating them and hooked up to ventilators 
Dr Jim Down, a critical care consultant at the hospital, said: 'It is completely unimaginable. We can't cope with a big spike (inpatient numbers) - we just can't'
Dr Jim Down, a critical care consultant at the hospital, said: 'It is completely unimaginable. We can't cope with a big spike (inpatient numbers) - we just can't'
The government is urgently trying to crank up the capacity of the country's ICU's as the UK approaches the peak of its epidemic
The government is urgently trying to crank up the capacity of the country's ICU's as the UK approaches the peak of its epidemic
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty today said it was 'critical' for the NHS to always have an excess of available critical beds during the fight against coronavirus.
He told this evening's Downing Street press briefing: 'Our principle aim... is to ensure the gap between the number beds available for intensive care and those that are needed is always in a situation where we have some room to spare.
'And if we end up in a situation where we have more ICU beds at all times during this epidemic than we absolutely need to deal with Covid and other areas, that will be a success.
'That is something which is critical for our overall aim. What we would like to see is some headroom between what we need and what we have available at any given time, both for Covid and other conditions.'
Mr Raab said the building of additional NHS Nightingale hospitals in areas such as Bristol, Harrogate and Birmingham was about ensuring there was a spread of critical care beds across England.
Countries across Europe, including the UK, Italy and Spain, have seen the numbers of people dying from coronavirus fall in recent days, offering hope that their outbreaks may be slowing down
Countries across Europe, including the UK, Italy and Spain, have seen the numbers of people dying from coronavirus fall in recent days, offering hope that their outbreaks may be slowing down
Data collected by the Department of Transport show how the use of public transport and cars has dramatically dropped since the lockdown was brought into place
Data collected by the Department of Transport show how the use of public transport and cars has dramatically dropped since the lockdown was brought into place
Figures also show how the number of new cases recorded every day has risen since the crisis began to take hold in mid-March
Figures also show how the number of new cases recorded every day has risen since the crisis began to take hold in mid-March
Hospital admissions have started to slow down across England but are still rising, according to graphs presented at a Number 10 press conference tonight
Hospital admissions have started to slow down across England but are still rising, according to graphs presented at a Number 10 press conference tonight
Figures show how the UK's rising death toll compares to other nations with similar outbreaks, including Spain, the US, Italy, Germany and France
Figures show how the UK's rising death toll compares to other nations with similar outbreaks, including Spain, the US, Italy, Germany and France
He added: 'We are not remotely complacent. We are doing everything we can to make sure we not only have the capacity but also room for manoeuvre. 
Today's death count is the lowest since March 31, last Tuesday, when it was 381, and marks a 39 per cent fall from the UK's worst day so far, Saturday, when the deaths of 708 people were recorded.
The number of new cases is also lower than it was for almost all of last week, with the 3,802 new positive tests 2,101 fewer than 5,903 yesterday and only the second time since March that the number has been below 4,000.  
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, said authorities will start to consider easing the UK's lockdown in the coming weeks if the numbers of people being admitted to hospital remains stable. There are fears a long quarantine will cause permanent damage to the economy and the NHS appears to be coping well so far.
However, for normality to return experts say antibody tests - which reveal who has already recovered from COVID-19 - will be necessary. But leading scientists have warned the UK is at least a month away from having any that work, adding that all the kits that have been checked already have 'not performed well' and are not worth using.
More optimistic statistics come as countries around Europe, including Italy, Spain and Germany, appear to be seeing death rates fall - Germany's outbreak appears to have hit is peak already with just 1,600 deaths.  

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