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NHS England commissions a total of 15 adult respiratory extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) beds per annum from five providers in England (with a further provider in Scotland), as well as paediatric respiratory ECMO beds from five providers in England (again with further provider in Scotland). Whilst there is no set number of beds per provider because the number of paediatric cases is very small, there are typically no more than three patients requiring respiratory ECMO at any one time. In periods of high demand, adult and paediatric capacity can be increased in line with agreed standard operating procedure.
Highly specialised beds will only be needed by a minority of affected patients. In relation to the Chief Medical Officer’s recent announcement on COVID-19, hospitals have been advised on what next steps they need to take to respond to any outbreak and hardworking staff are working round the clock to test and treat patients with coronavirus and as you'd expect, work is under way to explore all practical options to increase capacity.