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Medics said they are “throwing everything” at patients to help them recover from the horrific virus, but said “it just doesn’t seem to be working”. Staff at Milton Keynes University Hospital warned more people are dying from coronavirus as fewer of the sickest patients are responding to treatment. One in 10 major hospital trusts had no spare adult critical care beds last week, according to NHS England data.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, has warned hospitals are like “war zones” amid rising numbers of virus patients.
Some 15 out of 140 acute trusts reported 100 percent occupancy of all “open” beds each day from January 11 to 17.
Wassim Shamsuddin, clinical director for anaesthesia and intensive care at Milton Keynes, said: “This time around, what we’re finding is that patients aren’t faring as well if they need to be invasively ventilated.
Our mortality probably in the first wave for patients coming to intensive care was around 40 percent. This time around we find that the mortality is about 80 percent.
“At the moment we’re just all keeping our heads down and just getting on with it.
Medics say they are ‘throwing everything’ at patients to help them recover from the virus
“Intensive care hospitals are meant to be a place where we treat patients and make them better.
“The difficulty here is that even though we try our best and we throw everything at the patients, it just doesn’t seem to be working.”
Dr Shamsuddin said every Covid patient in the hospital now automatically receives the drugs Remdesivir and Dexamethasone after they were found to be effective.
The youngest person being ventilated at the hospital is just 28, staff said.
The doctors and nurses at Milton Keynes University Hospital said they are now battling with the strain of exhaustion and loss.
Pictures taken inside the hospital show staff hard at work, as they face the pressure of the mortality rate doubling.
Sir Patrick Vallance said reports that lockdown could be lifted early were ‘insanity’
Hospital staff try and keep moral high. A temporary eating area has been arranged, and uplifting messages are written on an “inspiration wall” to keep spirits high.
A bell is even rung to notify staff of meal times.
Medics have been drafted in from other wards to plug gaps in the units supporting Covid patients.
Joe Harrison, chief executive of Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the hospital had seen more than twice the number of patients in the second wave than the first, and currently had 186 patients with Covid.
He said: “We believe that over the next week or so, we’re going to continue to see real pressures in our critical care unit.
Sir Patrick Vallance warned hospitals are like ‘war zones’ amid rising number of virus patients
“And then hopefully we will turn the corner and things will start to improve.”
Joy Halliday, a consultant in intensive care and acute medicine, is in charge of a high-dependency unit for Covid.
She said that with visits curtailed, the doctors and nurses were also supporting patients emotionally.
She added: “I can only just imagine how difficult that is for family at the end of the telephone to be told that their loved one is getting worse, or they’re agitated or their oxygen levels are dropping.
“It’s difficult for us to see and it’s even more difficult for them.”
Ms Halliday and other staff have forged close bonds with the patients, despite having to wear full PPE and being forced to interact from behind masks and visors.
Patient Geoffrey Winter, 70, said of the high-dependency unit: “It’s draining. It’s draining physically. It’s draining mentally.
“It’s difficult to keep going on a day-to-day basis for staff, just to see death in, death out, every day.”
Stephen Marshall, 68, added: “I’m on oxygen all the time now. I seem to be holding my own at the moment, so touch wood.”
The governing body of the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes clinical commissioning group said in a statement: “We are now at the point where 50 percent of the patients across our hospitals are Covid positive.
Staff at Milton Keynes University Hospital warned more people are dying from the virus
“It’s having a huge impact on human lives, including our loved ones, and it’s putting huge strain on our clinicians and health and social care staff who are desperate to provide the best quality service.”
Meanwhile, Sir Patrick said reports that the lockdown could be lifted early were “insanity”.
He said: “You go for a walk in the park or something, life looks normal.
“You go to a hospital – some look like a war zone at the moment. This is a very bad moment.”