Doctors rushed off their feet with a surge of coronavirus patients will be given new guidelines to help them decide which victims should live or die.
The criteria, expected to be issued on Saturday reports the Independent, will be in place for medics to use if they run out of intensive care or ventilators.
Guidelines will cover patients with pre-existing conditions, including respiratory disease, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
It is unclear if an age limit which treatment could be withdrawn, but other countries hit by the pandemic have implemented such measures.
If the guidelines are adhered to, it could potentially see a patient already on a ventilator removed to allow someone with a greater chance of survival a bed.
A source told The Independent: “We have never been in a situation like this before, there is going to be a huge pressure on beds and critical care, so we are addressing that issue.
“We have had to move very quickly.”
The source reportedly told The Independent the guidelines have been put together in little more than a week.
It comes as Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, London, declared a “critical incident” on Friday, after it ran out of ICU beds due to an influx of COVID-19 cases.
The facility no longer has any “critical care capacity left” and has “contacted neighbouring hospital about transferring patients.”
Six of the UK’s 183 coronavirus-related deaths were registered at Northwick Park Hospital.
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A senior director of a different trust told Sky News outer London was being hit hardest by bed shortages.
He said: "The trusts in outer London seem to be hit much worse at the moment, probably about two weeks ahead of the rest of the country’ the source told HSJ, citing Barnet, Lewisham and Greenwich, Epsom and St Helier, North Middlesex and Hillingdon as struggling areas.
"‘Given we’re in the low foothills of this virus, this is f***ing petrifying.
"The thing people aren’t really talking about yet is that we are going to have to quickly agree some clinical thresholds for admissions to intensive care.
"This is what the Italians have had to do."
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