Surge in ward cases ‘could fill 12 hospitals’


Surge in ward cases ‘could fill 12 hospitals’: Number of beds take up by Covid-19 patients surged in the eight days since Christmas, new figures show

  • Beds occupied by  Covid patients increased in the eight days from Christmas
  • East of England, London and South East recorded largest percentage increases  
  • On New Year’s Eve, three intensive care units in London were reportedly full

The number of beds occupied by Covid patients increased by the equivalent of ’12 full hospitals’ in the eight days from Christmas, NHS figures show.

Between December 25 and January 2, the total number of inpatients suffering with coronavirus in England jumped from 17,701 to 23,557 – up 33 per cent.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, described the increase as the equivalent of ’12 extra full hospitals, full of Covid patients’. 

The East of England, London and the South East recorded the largest percentage increases in hospital admissions for those suffering with the virus as the new, more infectious strain continues to take hold.

Doctors treat a patient suffering from coronavirus at an Intensive Care ward at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey

Mr Hopson said: ‘You can imagine why people in the NHS are worried about how quickly this virus is spreading.’

Meanwhile, emergency plans are being drawn up to move critically-ill patients hundreds of miles as part of a ‘pairing’ scheme designed to ease pressure on regions where the NHS is struggling to cope.

Those in the East of England could be moved to hospitals in the Midlands while health trusts in the South East are preparing to send patients to the South West. It is believed to be the first scheme of its kind in NHS history. 

Mr Hopson said it would involve only a small number of patients being moved from London when space in neighbouring hospitals was exhausted.

‘If it gets more difficult, we will find other ways to treat people within the region but we know there are some patients that can be moved to where the pressure is slightly less, for example the South West and Midlands,’ he told the Sunday Times.

On New Year’s Eve, three intensive care units in London were reportedly full, with seriously-ill patients awaiting transfers to units elsewhere. 

North Middlesex University Hospital, Barnet Hospital and Whittington Hospital, in the north and north-west of the capital, described various issues including patients receiving oxygen in A&E, in an email leaked to Sky News.

Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said the NHS is trying to continue with its other services and treat patients while also dealing with the second coronavirus wave.

The total number of inpatients suffering with coronavirus in England jumped from 17,701 to 23,557, up 33 per cent, between December 25 and January 2, NHS figures show. Pictured: Healthcare workers in an NHS hospital ward amid the coronavirus pandemic

The total number of inpatients suffering with coronavirus in England jumped from 17,701 to 23,557, up 33 per cent, between December 25 and January 2, NHS figures show. Pictured: Healthcare workers in an NHS hospital ward amid the coronavirus pandemic

London Ambulance staff transport a patient into The Royal London Hospital in east London

London Ambulance staff transport a patient into The Royal London Hospital in east London

She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘One of the things I would like to tell the public is that if you have any concerns, whether it is about Covid or not, you must seek advice and help.’ 

She said there are ‘logistical issues’ with the temporary Nightingale hospitals, some of which have been used to support diagnostic services.

Yesterday NHS bosses denied reports that cancer operations would need to be delayed to ensure there were enough beds in London.

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