Doctors in hospitals across England are days away from having to make "horrendous choices" over who to treat and who is left to die, a consultant has warned.
The NHS is now busier than during the first peak of the pandemic, with record admissions, and urgent care patients forced to wait outside.
An increase in admissions is threatening ventilation capacity across England, Dr Claudia Paoloni has said, and could put medics in a position to decide who lives and dies.
Dr Paolino, who is president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, told the Guardian the NHS "doesn’t have the beds to cope" and "some areas will be overwhelmed in days".
She added: "If ventilation capacity is exceeded, horrendous choices will have to be made over those who live and die."
Dr Paoloni also told the publication medics may also have to choose who to admit to intensive, care, how long for, and decide whether to continue administering treatment on patients who appear to be making "no progress".
She also said the use of haemodialysis machines are few and far between and doctors may have to take a machine from one patient and give to another who has a better chance of survival.
Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London, said: "Things are as bad as they have ever been.
"Action is needed now to avoid the collapse of the NHS in a few weeks. It is that serious."
Hospitals in London are reportedly so overwhelmed they're considering transferring patients out of the capital to Yorkshire.
The Health Service Journal reported England's critical care capacity is running at over 100% at a number of hospitals across London, the southeast, and east.
A senior intensive care source confirmed to HSJ that a lack of capacity in the Tier 4 capital had seen a number of requests for patients to be transferred to hospitals in Tier 3 Yorkshire.
Data from the internal NHS critical care capacity dashboard – leaked to HSJ – showed that London had far surpassed its maximum capacity with intensive care units 114% full on Monday night.
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