• University Hospitals Birmingham set to redeploy 200 doctors from all grades to critical care units
  • Trust planning for 280 intensive care patients this week, up from 172 at the moment
  • Message to staff warns trust in period of “extremis” and “absolute emergency” 

The trust with the country’s largest intensive care unit capacity is set to redeploy 200 doctors as it faces being “overwhelmed” by covid-19 patients.

HSJ understands University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust has told staff it intends to redeploy doctors across all grades to its ICUs .

It comes after NHS England told all Midlands trusts to double their ICU capacity, ahead of providing potential support to London and South East hospitals

In a message sent yesterday to medical staff, Peter Hewins, consultant at the trust’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: “The trust position is one of extremis. We are at significant risk of becoming overwhelmed by covid-19 patient[s] and specifically our ICUs are under immense pressure. We are planning for 280 ICU patients across the trust [230 at QEH] — potentially as soon as the end of this week.”

Data published today by the trust showed it currently has 172 patients across all of its ICUs. 

Dr Hewin’s message said there was “no choice” other than to “initiate a large scale redeployment of doctors across all grades to ICU [200 doctors in total]”.

He explained the trust’s medical staff were identifying who was “not essential” to their speciality inpatient and outpatient work and redeploying any remaining staff to ICU.

The trust is also sending 20 junior doctors to “complement” registrars and consultants who were being released from specialities.

The message added: “In this period of absolute emergency, we have to act outside of usual conventions on redeployment and agreed working terms and conditions/notice change. Our critical care teams are ready to receive you and will provide appropriate induction and all doctors redeployed in this way will be working with full supervision from the critical care team…

“I appreciate this will represent a challenging experience for many but we have no other options…We must now stand together to face the full force of [the third] wave of the pandemic.”

HSJ understands UHB plans to stand down elective care at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, reduce elective care at its Solihull Hospital and also further reduce outpatient services.

HSJ reported yesterday the Royal Wolverhampton Trust was due to redeploy all of its trainee medical doctors, following increased pressure on its medical beds. 

A spokesman for UHB said in a statement: “We continue to expand our intensive care and acute medical teams so they are able to treat the rising number of Covid-19 patients and those who require time-critical surgery including cancer operations.

 “Every member of staff will be supported by the trust in delivering the best care wherever they are working.”

The trust said it was expecting more than 1,000 patients in the coming weeks. 

This story was updated with a comment from UHB and additional information received by HSJ.