Medical boffins have voiced fears that vital medical oxygen could run out in no time at all as the stretched NHS is bombarded with coronavirus cases.
As killer Covid-19 leaves sufferers gasping for breath, it is crucial to ventilate them with oxygen as medics battle desperately to save them in the early hours following diagnosis.
But experts are worried companies tasked with supplying the oxygen to the NHS won't be able to keep up with demand.
Dr Ganesh Suntharalingam, president of the Intensive Care Society, told The Telegraph: "There needs to be a greater heightened sense of urgency about this.
"Oxygen supply is not something we’re used to thinking about, but there is no guarantee it won’t run out in a matter of hours rather than days.”
Healthcare Companies such as BOC Healthcare, which takes care of delivery of oxygen tanks once supplies run low, have been ordered to quadruple their supplies.
Meanwhile it is reported that British Army troops will be brought in to ship oxygen supplies around the nation.
Doctors fear BOC Healthcare will be unable to keep up with demand as hospitals are faced with more and more sick Brits.
This comes as posh private hospitals faced called to hand over their beds to the NHS amid fears there are not nearly enough available.
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Medics warn that frontline services will struggle to cope and now Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth says he's appalled that beds could be lying empty "waiting for the wealthy to fall ill" as the NHS struggles.
According to the GMB union there are at least 570 private hospitals in the UK, with a total of around 8,000 beds.
Mr Ashworth said it would be "completely wrong" for Boris Johnson – who has described coronavirus as "the worst public health crisis for a generation" – not to demand these beds are used for NHS patients.
The chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, has said we have "about a quarter" of the critical care beds that Germany has and urged the Government to provide "clear, decisive plans" so healthcare workers can provide the care patients need.
Asked about the number of ventilators in the UK, Dr Nagpaul told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "Our starting position unfortunately has been far worse than may other of our European nations – we have about a quarter of the critical care beds that Germany has, as an example, so it's really critical, it's really important that we now see transparently what plans the Government has to expand that capacity."
Health Minister Matt Hancock said the NHS needs ventilators now more than anything else.
When asked by Sophy Ridge about stocks of ventilators, Mr Hancock said: "We start with around 5,000 ventilators, we think we need many times more than that and we are saying if you produce a ventilator then we will buy it. No number is too high."
"They are relatively complicated pieces of kit, I couldn't make one, but they're not so complicated that the advanced manufacturing that this country is so good at now can't be able to turn its production lines over to.
"We've been talking to a whole host of companies about it and the Prime Minister is hosting a conference call today with them to say very clearly to the nation's manufacturers ventilators are the thing that we are going to need and frankly right across the world, the demand for them is incredibly high so it is not possible to produce too many.
"So anybody who can should turn production and their engineering minds over to the production of ventilators."
He added: "The thing the NHS needs now more than anything else is more ventilators. We've been buying as many as we can but we need to produce more too."
Mr Hancock said he could not make guarantees that everyone who requires a ventilator will get one, saying: "We don't make guarantees in healthcare".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will personally urge manufacturers to shift their production lines to build ventilators.
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