As the coronavirus pandemic puts an immense strain on the NHS, volunteers and charities are stepping up to help out any way they can.
Pet charity Blue Cross has donated their ventilators to support NHS hospitals during the crisis, handing over mechanical ventilators to a hospital in London and one in Surrey.
The ventilators are usually used on pets during certain surgical procedures when pets are under anaesthetic and in surgery at the Blue Cross’s animal hospitals in Merton, south London and Hammersmith in west London.
The charity is responding to calls from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England to veterinary practices, charities and other organisations across the country to provide any ventilators they can spare as they work to increase the country’s supply.
This move is all to prepare for expected increases in the number of patients suffering from severe respiratory problems.
Nadine Lock, Chief Vet at the Blue Cross hospital in Hammersmith, said: ‘We wanted to offer our help and we understand ventilators are critically important in supporting the recovery of human patients in hospital being treated for the virus.
‘Blue Cross teams can manually ventilate pets in surgery at our hospital in Victoria, should this be necessary.’
The charity’s hospital in Victoria remains open for emergency care, while routine check-ups, advice and medication requests are being handled remotely. The Merton and Hammersmith animal hospitals have closed temporarily.
David Catlow, Director of Blue Cross clinical services, said: ‘The health and wellbeing of our teams, pets and visitors is a priority at Blue Cross and we are reviewing the situation constantly to ensure we do our very best to keep everyone safe.
‘We have also reduced our veterinary services by pausing our London mobile clinics, non-urgent hospital appointments and ambulance services. We are also rescheduling any non-urgent surgery in order to focus on maintaining our emergency services.
‘We are stepping up our capability to deliver remote consultations by team members working both in the hospitals and potentially from their own homes too.
‘We have implemented daily teleconferences for teams to share their experiences and to help provide support for each other in these very challenging times.’