The clapping has stopped, but health bosses say the strain on staff is even greater than in spring

Richard Breeze reels off a list of the ways his hospital will adapt in coming weeks to cope with the growing number of coronavirus patients flooding through their doors. Staff will be redeployed, wards will be emptied to make more space and critical care capacity – which has already gone from 10 beds to 28 – will move up to treating 30-odd extremely unwell people.

Speaking over the phone while on a ward round, with a whirl of hospital activity going on behind him, Breeze – who is the clinical director of critical care at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust – says they are reaching the levels of the first wave but this time around they have fewer staff.

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