Thousands of hospital patients could be moved to hotels or their homes to free up space for Covid patients and ‘stop parts of the NHS collapsing’. #

Many patients could be discharged early as an emergency measure to create ‘extra emergency contingency capacity’, senior sources have revealed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the option is being considered but insists it is not an active plan and ‘would only ever happen if it was clinically right for any individual patient’.

NHS chiefs are also planning on asking care homes to take in coronavirus sufferers from hospitals without recent negative tests – as long as they have been in quarantine for two weeks and have displayed no new symptoms, The Guardian reports.

The ‘home and hotel’ plan would see patients who are discharged early cared for by voluntary organisations, including St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross and armed forces medical personnel. Available NHS staff would also help, although sources have warned very few workers will be able to offer their services as mutant strains of the virus continue to take hold of England.

One official said: ‘This is for patients who don’t need to be in a hospital bed but still need to be in a protected environment.’ The London Hotel Group (LHG) has already started taking in homeless people who have tested positive for coronavirus in its Best Western-branded hotel in Croydon, London.

A statement from chief executive Meher Nawab said the company could provide beds for at least 5,000 patients ‘who are medically fit for discharge but can’t yet return home’ – including 1,500 in London. The ‘home and hotel’ proposals have proved divisive, with some experts warning early discharge could result in ‘harm to the patient’, resulting in many being re-admitted to hospitals.

Lucy Watson, chair of the Patients Association, said: ‘Care by volunteers in hotels is not an adequate substitute for proper hospital care. ‘But at a time when hospitals are overwhelmed by critically ill patients and striving to prevent loss of life on a large scale, clearly they will be making desperate choices.’