Monday, November 29

More coronavirus patients exceed April peak as Nightingales

There are now more coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals than there were during the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, new figures show.

As of 8am on Monday, there were 20,426 patients in the country’s NHS hospitals compared to the 18,974 patients recorded on April 12, NHS England revealed.

The sobering update comes after the UK recorded its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases to date, with 41,385 infections confirmed as of 9am on Monday, according to the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, London’s Nightingale hospital has been stripped of its beds as medics warn there are not enough staff to run the facility, the Telegraph reported.

The facility at the Excel centre is being dismantled, while the majority of the seven Nightingale units created at a cost of £220 million have yet to start treating Covid-19 patients during the second wave, according to the paper.

NHS trusts have been instructed to start preparing to use the overflow hospitals in the coming weeks, but bosses have reportedly failed to explain how they will be staffed.

Referring to the latest figures, Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: This very high level of infection is of growing concern at a time when our hospitals are at their most vulnerable, with new admissions rising in many regions.

The figures come amid warnings that hospitals in the South are facing a rise in pressure due to the increasing number of coronavirus patients.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “We know that the rate of Covid-19 admissions is rising and some trusts are reporting up to three times the number of Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave.

This means hospitals and also ambulance services in Tier 4 areas and beyond are incredibly busy, compounded by increasing staff absences due to illness and the need to self-isolate.

Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, called the trend extremely worrying and said systems will again be stretched to the limit. It is not ‘just the case’ of using the Nightingale hospital as there are simply no staff for them to run as they were originally intended (mini intensive care units), he said.

They could play a role perhaps if used as rehabilitation units for those recovering but, again, where do we find the specialist staff the NHS simply does not have the capacity to spare anyone. Paramedics in the capital are receiving support from other ambulance services in the South as they receive up to 8,000 999 calls each day.