PATIENTS in need of oxygen are being diverted from Southend to Basildon Hospital due to “a critical supply issue”, it is claimed.

Southend Hospital said it was experiencing “high demand” for oxygen due to the number of Covid-19 patients.

In a memo by the managing director and clinical director for medicine of the hospital – shared publicly by the Save Southend NHS campaign group – it was said it is “imperative” the situation is acted on immediately.

The group has also claimed that patients in need of oxygen were being diverted to Basildon.

A spokesman said: “Since 8pm yesterday (Sunday) anyone in an ambulance who requires oxygen is being diverted away from Southend to Basildon.

“This is still in place now to run indefinitely.”

The Mid and South Essex Hospitals Trust which runs the hospital has said it is “working to manage” the situation.

However, it declined to comment when asked about patients being diverted from Southend to Basildon Hospital.

The internal memo said: “We have reached a critical situation with oxygen supply.

“It is imperative we use oxygen safely and efficiently.

“All patients should have a target saturation of 88 – 92 per cent.

“Patients with a saturation above 92 per cent which are on oxygen should have their oxygen weaned within the target range.

“I can assure you that maintaining saturations within this target range is safe and no patient will come to harm as a result.

“It is imperative that this is acted on immediately.”

Yvonne Blucher, Managing Director of Southend Hospital, said: “We are experiencing high demand for oxygen because of rising numbers of inpatients with Covid-19 and we are working to manage this.

“The public can play their part by staying home and, where they cannot, following the ‘hands, face, space’ advice to cut the spread of the virus.”

While the trust insists the lower saturation of oxygen is safe, according to the British Lung Foundation, for someone who is healthy, the normal blood oxygen saturation level will be around 95 to 100 per cent.

Lisa Ward, lead respiratory nurse for Southend Hospital, pleaded for people to stick to the rules.

She said: “Please, please people – do not potter when you are out – support each other to stay away from anyone not living with you – exercise away from others – try not to stop to talk – nod politely smile and walk on.

“Give each other space in the shops.

“Wait a couple of weeks to buy hardware etc.”

Ms Ward’s crucial advice includes staying indoors, not mixing with anyone outside households, not stopping to talk to others if people do go out for exercise, and wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

Ms Ward – who is on the NHS frontline every day – added: “The virus cannot live if it cannot spread from human to human.

It dies in our bodies as we kill it.

“Very few of us need hospital but when we do we are ill for a long time and sadly a few people do not recover.

“So fight this virus off – stop it in in tracks – don’t allow it to spread to there.

“Act as though you have it.

“Act as though everyone else has it.

“Be kind and eat well, keep hydrated, check in by phone, video call on others. And most of all be kind and ignore the fakers.”