BBC::Two hundred doctors will be redeployed to one of England’s largest intensive care units amid fears it could be “overwhelmed”.

A leaked memo warned hospitals in Birmingham were “in a position of extremis” as Covid-19 cases rise.

Elective surgeries at the city’s main Queen Elizabeth Hospital will stop as staff move to critical care duties.

A spokesperson said the approach ensured “the greatest good for the greatest numbers of people”.

The trust’s decision to redeploy doctors was revealed in a leaked email to the Health Service Journal, which has been verified by the BBC.

Sent by consultant Peter Hewins, it said hospitals in Birmingham risked being “overwhelmed” amid a “period of absolute emergency”.

The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) said there were 873 patients with Covid-19 across its sites, with 125 in intensive care.

This was significantly more than in April 2020, it said, as it announced plans to double its intensive care capacity to more than 250 beds.

Time-critical surgery, including cancer operations, will continue, the trust said, but elective procedures at the Queen Elizabeth will be paused, and reduced elsewhere.

There will also be a “further reduction of outpatient activity”, a spokesperson said, adding: “Every member of staff will be supported by the Trust in delivering the best care wherever they are working.”

Neighbouring University Coventry and Warwickshire Hospitals Trust confirmed it had started taking Covid patients from Birmingham.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is one of the largest teaching hospital trusts in England.

It runs several hospitals, including Birmingham Heartlands, the Queen Elizabeth, Solihull Hospital and Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. It also runs Birmingham Chest Clinic.

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