Two thirds of hospitals currently have more Covid patients than they did on England’s worst day in April last year when the pandemic first exploded, official figures show as Number 10 last night shifted back to another national lockdown to ‘protect the NHS’.
There were a record 26,000 infected patients in hospital beds across England on January 2, the most recent day data is available for, and doctors warn admissions are still accelerating as the second wave rages on.
Boris Johnson last night announced the toughest lockdown since spring amid fears the resurgence of the virus, driven by a super-infectious new variant, will cause hospitals to be overwhelmed by the virus within weeks.
London yesterday reported 828 new coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital on January 2, in the highest daily toll for nine months and close to the record of 883 back in March.
And analysis of official statistics shows some hospitals in hard-hit areas such as Kent and East Sussex are seeing up to three times as many coronavirus patients as they did on April 12, the point of the first wave at which patient numbers were highest.
NHS staff from across the country say caring for surging numbers of people is becoming more and more difficult, with one London hospital last week declaring it was in ‘disaster’ mode. One doctor said medics in some badly hit areas are already having to decide how to ration ventilators for intensive care patients and face ‘horrifying’ choices at work.
Chief of healthcare union NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said the spike in Covid inpatients since Christmas alone was enough to fill 18 hospitals. And the Royal College of Surgeons’s president, Professor Neil Mortensen, warned that patient numbers are now so high that cancer operations may have to be sidelined again.
NHS England statistics show that, in the most recent data from December 29, 81 out of 127 major hospital trusts had more Covid patients than on April 12.
Many of the worst affected are in the South East and London, where the new fast-spreading variant of the virus has taken hold, with those regions now making up a majority of the daily positive tests being reported.
Hospitals in the North West, which endured the full force of the second wave earlier in the autumn, have now seen patient numbers drop to more manageable levels. The new strain of the virus is not yet spreading as widely in the North of the country.
Graph shows the NHS hospital trusts that have the highest number of Covid-19 patients now compared to in April, with many hospitals seeing three or even four times as many people with the disease than they did at the height of the first wave
WHICH HOSPITALS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE PATIENTS THAN IN THE SPRING?
Almost two thirds of hospitals in England had more Covid-19 patients at the end of December than they did on April 12, which was the worst day for England as a whole during the first wave.
The worst-affected hospitals now are mostly in the South of England, but NHS trusts in the North experienced similar spikes in patients at the start of the second wave in the autumn.
Hospital trusts listed below had the biggest difference between total patient numbers in April and December, measured in raw numbers not adjusted for hospital size.
Covid patients on April 12, 2020
Covid patients on Dec 29, 2020
Mr Hopson said last night that there has been ‘another steep rise in the number of Covid cases, and the number of patients being admitted to hospital is also rising at an alarming rate.
‘There are almost 9,000 more Covid patients in hospital beds – the equivalent of nearly 18 hospitals – than there was on Christmas Day, just 10 days ago.
‘We know that number is going to continue to rise over the next few weeks. The lockdown announcement will help, but only if everyone follows the rules.’
NHS figures show that on the worst day in the first wave, April 12, there were 18,974 people with Covid-19 in England’s hospitals.
On December 29 this was 21,787. It has since spiralled to 26,626 but hospital-by-hospital data is not yet available for the extra 5,000 patients.
December’s data shows that London has the greatest number of Covid patients in hospital – in part because it has the biggest population – but there have been far sharper rises in the South East and the East of England.
In the East of the country, inpatient numbers are 74 per cent higher than they were in the spring, with 2,922 patients on December 29 compared to 1,679 on April 12.
There were 62 per cent more in the South East – 3,796 compared to 2,342.
In London, the Midlands and the South West, there were between eight and nine per cent more patients at the end of December than at the country’s peak in April.
But the North East, North West and Yorkshire all now have fewer inpatients than they did nine months ago.
Many hospitals in the North, however, experienced the same spiralling pressures now being seen in the South at the start of the first wave in September, October and November, when cases were still low in other parts of the country.
Mid and South Essex NHS trust, which runs hospitals in Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford, is one of the ones to have seen the biggest spike in patients during the second wave. On December 29 it had 785 people on wards with Covid-19, which was 411 more than double the 374 on April 12, England’s peak.
East Kent Hospitals has seen admissions almost three times as high, with 415 patients compared to 143, while the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust had 3.5 times as many patients in December: 299 compared to 85.
Record number of sick patients are waiting 12 hours on a stretcher
NHS figures yesterday revealed a record number of very sick patients waited on trolleys in A&E during December.
The data, seen by the Health Service Journal, shows that more than 2,930 people spent at least 12 hours in A&E departments.
Nearly half of these were in London.
The previous highest number of 12-hour trolley waits – the time between arriving at A&E and receiving a bed – was 2,847 in January 2020.
The provisional figures – which will probably increase -are set to be published officially by NHS England next week.
Vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Adrian Boyle told The Times: ‘No one needs to spend 12 hours in an emergency department.
‘Not only is it undignified for patients, but studies have found that the longer a patient waits for admission to a hospital bed, the greater the risk of death.’
He added: ‘These waits usually result from a lack of inpatient beds and staff, and — as well as putting the patient at risk — lead to further dangerous crowding and corridor care within the emergency department.
He said the more patients there are on stretchers, the more difficult it is to administer care in an already-strained A&E.
Surgeons have warned that the rising numbers of patients being seen across the country could mean that cancer operations fall by the wayside again.
Doctors were already trying to make their way through a backlog of millions of non-Covid patients before the second wave struck, and this progress is now threatened again despite officials saying cancelling routine operations again would be unthinkable.
The first operations to be postponed are non-urgent ones for conditions that aren’t life-threatening, such as joint replacements and cataracts. More serious procedures such as organ surgeries or cancer operations are kept going for longer until health bosses have no choice but to cancel them due to a lack of staff or recovery beds.
Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, warned the situation in hospitals is getting ‘much worse’, and escalating faster than the ‘slow-motion car crash’ he previously predicted.
King’s College Hospital in south London has already called off all ‘priority 2’ cancer operations, procedures which specialists have judged to be urgent and need to be done within 28 days of a decision to undertake them.
It is feared other hospitals in the country may face the same difficult decision in the coming days if admissions don’t start to fall.
Professor Mortensen told Times Radio: ‘My colleagues in London doing ward rounds, for example, report that there are problems with staff numbers on the wards, staff numbers in theatres.
‘And then of course if you need to go to the intensive care unit, if the intensive care unit is full of Covid patients there’s no room for you.
‘So it’s a really serious situation and, obviously, the less-priority operations have already stopped in many places – hips, knees, ENT (ear nose and throat) procedures.
‘We’re now concerned about operations like cancer surgeries being cancelled or postponed because there just isn’t the capacity to be able to manage them.’
He added: ‘I think if you have a delayed operation for cancer that may have an effect.
‘If you come in from a road traffic accident and you’re seriously ill, and you need to go to an intensive care unit afterwards and there is no intensive care unit, that’s going to have serious consequences.
‘And that’s why everybody is so concerned right now that we are properly locked down, that we’re as far as we possibly can reducing the transmission of the virus, and making it possible for what facilities we do have to carry on working effectively to keep people alive.’
|NHS Trust name||Covid-19 patients on
April 12, 2020
|Covid-19 patients on
December 29, 2020
|Difference (+/-)||% difference|
|MID AND SOUTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||374||785||411||110%|
|EAST KENT HOSPITALS UNIVERSITY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||143||415||272||190%|
|MAIDSTONE AND TUNBRIDGE WELLS NHS TRUST||85||299||214||252%|
|PORTSMOUTH HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||130||342||212||163%|
|EAST SUSSEX HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||68||257||189||278%|
|BARKING, HAVERING AND REDBRIDGE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||171||356||185||108%|
|FRIMLEY HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||276||453||177||64%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF NORTH MIDLANDS NHS TRUST||134||304||170||127%|
|DARTFORD AND GRAVESHAM NHS TRUST||79||241||162||205%|
|HULL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||44||191||147||334%|
|MEDWAY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||106||253||147||139%|
|EAST SUFFOLK AND NORTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||123||264||141||115%|
|WEST HERTFORDSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||129||270||141||109%|
|UNITED LINCOLNSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||72||201||129||179%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF LEICESTER NHS TRUST||195||304||109||56%|
|THE QUEEN ELIZABETH HOSPITAL, KING’S LYNN, NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||51||159||108||212%|
|MILTON KEYNES UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||66||171||105||159%|
|NORTH TEES AND HARTLEPOOL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||73||166||93||127%|
|NORFOLK AND NORWICH UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||77||168||91||118%|
|WEST SUFFOLK NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||36||126||90||250%|
|BARTS HEALTH NHS TRUST||559||638||79||14%|
|NORTHAMPTON GENERAL HOSPITAL NHS TRUST||104||181||77||74%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF DERBY AND BURTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||225||302||77||34%|
|NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||210||283||73||35%|
|NORTH WEST ANGLIA NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||78||150||72||92%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS BRISTOL AND WESTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||81||150||69||85%|
|LEWISHAM AND GREENWICH NHS TRUST||286||346||60||21%|
|BEDFORDSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||180||239||59||33%|
|HOMERTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||90||149||59||66%|
|GLOUCESTERSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||148||207||59||40%|
|SHERWOOD FOREST HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||53||111||58||109%|
|NORTH MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NHS TRUST||226||283||57||25%|
|EAST LANCASHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||122||179||57||47%|
|DONCASTER AND BASSETLAW TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||67||121||54||81%|
|YEOVIL DISTRICT HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||14||66||52||371%|
|COUNTESS OF CHESTER HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||120||170||50||42%|
|EAST AND NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE NHS TRUST||65||112||47||72%|
|NORTHERN LINCOLNSHIRE AND GOOLE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||70||114||44||63%|
|BARNSLEY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||63||106||43||68%|
|OXFORD UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||125||167||42||34%|
|KINGSTON HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||101||142||41||41%|
|THE PRINCESS ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL NHS TRUST||109||147||38||35%|
|CROYDON HEALTH SERVICES NHS TRUST||153||191||38||25%|
|WHITTINGTON HEALTH NHS TRUST||83||121||38||46%|
|EPSOM AND ST HELIER UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||148||185||37||25%|
|BRIGHTON AND SUSSEX UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||107||141||34||32%|
|SOUTH TYNESIDE AND SUNDERLAND NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||200||231||31||16%|
|ST GEORGE’S UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||219||249||30||14%|
|THE ROTHERHAM NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||70||100||30||43%|
|EAST CHESHIRE NHS TRUST||57||87||30||53%|
|LANCASHIRE TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||132||162||30||23%|
|ROYAL BERKSHIRE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||142||169||27||19%|
|ROYAL DEVON AND EXETER NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||54||81||27||50%|
|THE HILLINGDON HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||102||128||26||25%|
|COUNTY DURHAM AND DARLINGTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||129||155||26||20%|
|SURREY AND SUSSEX HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||128||152||24||19%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS DORSET NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||76||99||23||30%|
|SOMERSET NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||32||55||23||72%|
|ASHFORD AND ST PETER’S HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||114||136||22||19%|
|WYE VALLEY NHS TRUST||31||51||20||65%|
|WESTERN SUSSEX HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||77||96||19||25%|
|WARRINGTON AND HALTON TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||98||112||14||14%|
|NORTHERN DEVON HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||15||28||13||87%|
|BLACKPOOL TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||117||129||12||10%|
|SHEFFIELD TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||261||272||11||4%|
|WRIGHTINGTON, WIGAN AND LEIGH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||93||104||11||12%|
|BRADFORD TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||88||97||9||10%|
|SALISBURY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||38||47||9||24%|
|SALFORD ROYAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||136||144||8||6%|
|THE DUDLEY GROUP NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||122||129||7||6%|
|SOUTH WARWICKSHIRE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||75||81||6||8%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS COVENTRY AND WARWICKSHIRE NHS TRUST||142||148||6||4%|
|GEORGE ELIOT HOSPITAL NHS TRUST||69||75||6||9%|
|BIRMINGHAM WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||5||11||6||120%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF MORECAMBE BAY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||130||136||6||5%|
|ROYAL UNITED HOSPITALS BATH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||43||48||5||12%|
|GREAT WESTERN HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||64||69||5||8%|
|KETTERING GENERAL HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||69||73||4||6%|
|ISLE OF WIGHT NHS TRUST||19||23||4||21%|
|CHELSEA AND WESTMINSTER HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||243||244||1||0%|
|BUCKINGHAMSHIRE HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||86||87||1||1%|
|SHEFFIELD CHILDREN’S NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||1||0||-1||-100%|
|DORSET COUNTY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||17||16||-1||-6%|
|WORCESTERSHIRE ACUTE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||128||125||-3||-2%|
|MID YORKSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||165||161||-4||-2%|
|ROYAL CORNWALL HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||32||27||-5||-16%|
|ROYAL SURREY COUNTY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||63||55||-8||-13%|
|SHREWSBURY AND TELFORD HOSPITAL NHS TRUST||77||68||-9||-12%|
|ROYAL FREE LONDON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||410||400||-10||-2%|
|TORBAY AND SOUTH DEVON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||23||13||-10||-43%|
|ALDER HEY CHILDREN’S NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||11||0||-11||-100%|
|CHESTERFIELD ROYAL HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||65||52||-13||-20%|
|YORK TEACHING HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||108||94||-14||-13%|
|TAMESIDE AND GLOSSOP INTEGRATED CARE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||74||58||-16||-22%|
|HARROGATE AND DISTRICT NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||34||12||-22||-65%|
|CALDERDALE AND HUDDERSFIELD NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||93||71||-22||-24%|
|JAMES PAGET UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||74||50||-24||-32%|
|UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||160||133||-27||-17%|
|STOCKPORT NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||117||90||-27||-23%|
|SANDWELL AND WEST BIRMINGHAM HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||214||186||-28||-13%|
|NORTH BRISTOL NHS TRUST||107||77||-30||-28%|
|AIREDALE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||58||26||-32||-55%|
|CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||122||87||-35||-29%|
|KING’S COLLEGE HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||509||474||-35||-7%|
|GUY’S AND ST THOMAS’ NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||303||267||-36||-12%|
|HAMPSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||139||103||-36||-26%|
|SOUTH TEES HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||145||102||-43||-30%|
|SOUTHPORT AND ORMSKIRK HOSPITAL NHS TRUST||104||59||-45||-43%|
|BOLTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||141||95||-46||-33%|
|LONDON NORTH WEST UNIVERSITY HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||357||310||-47||-13%|
|NORTH CUMBRIA INTEGRATED CARE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||152||103||-49||-32%|
|NORTHUMBRIA HEALTHCARE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||134||84||-50||-37%|
|WIRRAL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||128||78||-50||-39%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL SOUTHAMPTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||166||110||-56||-34%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS PLYMOUTH NHS TRUST||89||28||-61||-69%|
|PENNINE ACUTE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||259||193||-66||-25%|
|THE ROYAL WOLVERHAMPTON NHS TRUST||228||154||-74||-32%|
|GATESHEAD HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||114||39||-75||-66%|
|IMPERIAL COLLEGE HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||334||256||-78||-23%|
|LEEDS TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||230||148||-82||-36%|
|MID CHESHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||85||-85||-100%|
|WALSALL HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST||180||94||-86||-48%|
|THE NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||141||53||-88||-62%|
|ST HELENS AND KNOWSLEY TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST||153||51||-102||-67%|
|MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||414||270||-144||-35%|
|LIVERPOOL UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||346||179||-167||-48%|
|UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS BIRMINGHAM NHS FOUNDATION TRUST||694||509||-185||-27%|