NHS coronavirus crisis: Two more weeks until hospitals are overwhelmed | UK | News (Reports)


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A further 1,162 people lost their lives and 52,618 cases were reported across the UK while Covid hospital admissions in England hit another record high of 3,697. NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens said there were now 50 percent more virus patients in hospitals than at the peak of April’s first wave. He said: “That number is accelerating very, very rapidly. We have seen an increase of 10,000 hospitalised coronavirus patients just since Christmas Day.

“That’s the equivalent of filling 20 acute hospitals with extra corona-virus patients. And of course many of those will be patients who have caught the infection between Christmas and New Year.”

A record 28,246 Covid-19 patients were on wards in England at 8am yesterday, up 24 percent on a week ago.

And predictions leaked to the Health Service Journal said London’s hospitals were on the verge of being overwhelmed.

It reported an NHS England presentation showing even if virus patients grew at the lowest rate considered likely and measures to increase capacity were successful, London would be short of nearly 2,000 general, acute and intensive care beds by January 19.

A record 28,246 Covid-19 patients were on wards in England yesterday (Image: Getty)

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Rupert Pearse, a professor of intensive care medicine and a consultant at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, said his staff were caring for far more patients.

He said: “We would normally want one fully trained intensive care nurse per intensive care patient. Right now we’re down to one nurse to three and filling those gaps with untrained staff.

“We’re now faced with diluting that even further to one in four and as intensive care doctors we’re not sure how together we can deliver the quality of care we need to.

“The problem’s not just in London, the problem’s now spreading across the UK.” Asked if he believed the health service could be overwhelmed within two weeks, Prof Pearse said: “I never thought in my entire career that I might say something like this, but yes I do.

Emergency Services

Reports show Covid rates have increased across all age groups and regions (Image: Getty )

“Unless we take the lockdown seriously the impact on healthcare for the whole country could be catastrophic. And I don’t say those words lightly.” Sir Simon told yesterday’s Downing Street briefing: “We are seeing over 800 patients a day admitted to London hospitals with coronavirus.

“That is the equivalent of a new St Thomas’ Hospital full of Covid patients, every day. Or a new University College Hospital.”

Chris Hopson, of trusts group NHS Providers, said hospital bosses were looking to use space in care and nursing homes.

He said: “We are now reaching the point in some places where hospital beds are full, community beds are full and community at home services are also full.

“Trust leaders…know there is some spare capacity in the care and nursing home sector and they’re in the middle of conversation with care and nursing home colleagues.

“It’s literally leaving no stone unturned to maximise every single piece of capacity we’ve got in those areas under real pressure.” Mr Hopson said Nightingale hospitals in Exeter and Manchester were being used but warned they were a “last resort insurance policy” requiring staff to be diverted.

The latest Public Health England (PHE) report showed Covid rates increased across all age groups and regions in the week to Sunday.

The highest rate was among people in their 20s, with 842.5 cases per 100,000 population. London was worst hit, with a rate of 904.8 per 100,000 population. PHE medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Sadly, we are seeing more deaths each day and these numbers will continue to rise before we see the impact of the lockdown.

“We saw a sharp acceleration in infection rates last week to the highest levels since mass testing began.

“It is of particular concern that rates are high in those in older age groups who are at risk of more serious illness as well as people in their 20s and 30s.”

She added: “There is one simple and critical thing we can all do: stay at home, it will protect the NHS and save lives.

“We have done this before to great effect and must do so again as we vaccinate the most vulnerable.”

Meanwhile, NHS Test and Trace figures showed the number of people testing positive soared by a quarter in the week to December 30.

A record 684,747 people who had tested positive and their close contacts were reached and told to self-isolate during Christmas week.

Health minister Lord Bethell paid tribute to Test and Trace staff for keeping the service going.

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