Last night, the Royal Stoke University Hospital declared a major incident within the critical care unit as more seriously-ill patients with the deadly virus are set to be transferred to hospitals across the West Midlands.
Currently there are 322 coronavirus patients in beds across the Royal Stoke and Stafford’s County Hospital and there are only seven ventilators left.
As fears the situation could get worse, bosses have reached an agreement with NHS Trusts in Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire to transfer critically-ill patients to hospitals in the West Midlands.
This arrangement is set to stay in place until midday on Tuesday and will be reviewed daily.
Royal Stoke chief executive Tracy Bullock said: “We have been experiencing significant pressure across all areas of both hospitals, and particularly within the critical care service at the Royal Stoke.
“We have put in place a range of measures to ensure NHS resources are directed where they are needed during the Covid-19 pandemic and to make sure that both hospitals, staff and patients remain safe and care is prioritised to protect staff, patients and our services.
“The decision to transfer patients out of our hospital is not something we take lightly and we would like to apologise to our patients and families who are affected by this.
“Given the reduction in the community infection rate of Covid-19 across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent we are hoping this position will be resolved quickly.
“We would encourage all our communities to keep up the good progress we have made to reduce the infection rate and remember hands, face, space.”
This comes as Royal Stoke staff are facing “unprecedented pressures” following the outbreak of the virus.
Rob Irving, Royal College of Nursing leader, said: “We’ve never experienced anything like this before and what it creates is a huge amount of pressure on everybody in the organisation to try to do what’s best for patients.
“And sometimes when you’re under this kind of pressure those decisions aren’t easy and won’t please everybody.
“Tracy is in a position where she’s got to try to do what’s best for the majority of patients in the trust and when you haven’t got enough beds to house all the patients that need them, these are the kind of decisions that unfortunately have to be made.
“The decision to move patients out of the trust’s intensive care won’t be taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination.
“They are last resort decisions.
“I can, hand on heart, say those decisions won’t have been taken unless absolutely necessary.”
More to follow…