More than half of staff at an NHS trust are absent due to Covid-19 isolation rules, forcing operations to be canceled, while the number of Covid patients in England has jumped by a third over the course of from last week.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told a press conference in Downing Street that he expected the NHS to see 1,000 patients a day admitted to hospital soon.
His comments come as hospitals and ambulance services report growing demand for patients with staff redeployed to new Covid services and 999 unanswered calls for vital minutes due to understaffing.
A scorching heatwave over the weekend saw the West Midlands Ambulance Service declare ‘extreme pressure’ with 999 calls exceeding levels normally seen on New Years Day.
Across England, there were 3,813 Covid patients in hospital, up 36% from a week ago. This is around 3% of total NHS beds, but the small number has a disproportionate effect on services.
Birmingham University Hospitals on Thursday canceled all of his elective surgeries, including liver transplants. Cancer surgeries have also been delayed at Leeds University Hospital, with delays also at hospitals in Manchester and Newcastle.
At Hull Royal Infirmary, more than half of the employees absent from work, more than 400 employees, are on leave because they are either infected with the virus or forced into self-isolation as part of the so-called ” pingemia ”caused by the NHS Application Covid.
The government has announced plans to relax these rules for NHS staff to maintain certain services for patients.
In the West Midlands, ambulance leaders have reported unprecedented levels of demand of 999, with general manager Anthony Marsh admitting the service did not have enough call managers to cope.
In a staff briefing, the trust said: “Last week all records were broken for demand with levels that could barely be accommodated just a few months ago. Monday [12 July], the trust received no less than 6,406 emergency calls, nearly 600 more than the busiest day, Thursday 8 July. During Monday, call managers took over 340 calls in a single hour, which you might expect on New Years Eve, not a Monday morning.
Over the weekend, it received 16,058 emergency calls, compared to 12,300 calls between January 1 and January 3 of this year.
The volume of calls caused significant delays in responding to patients, which then led to worried callers to call back. Trust chief Anthony Marsh told staff, “Even though we are turning dual-trained call managers away from 111 to 999, we just don’t have enough staff. “
This image was repeated in Yorkshire where a paramedic said the service was unsafe.
The Yorkshire Trust has appealed to the public not to call back while waiting for an ambulance after an increase in demand saw him receive 4,449 calls on Saturday, 40% more than expected.
Lower priority calls had to wait several hours for an ambulance to arrive.
A paramedic said The independent that 999 calls were put on hold before answering, with at least one call waiting 12 minutes for an answer.
They said, “It’s not sure. When I look at the jobs, I know that in this pile there are jobs that we are going to miss. No matter how good the sorting is, we’re going to miss things just because of the sheer volume of what’s there. We’ve been at record levels for a month, no one knows why this is happening.
They added there were long delays at hospitals for ambulance teams to hand over patients with at least one patient waiting six hours outside Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
A Yorkshire Ambulance Service spokesperson said it had experienced one of its highest demands in recent weeks, adding: ‘We continue to respond to those who need it as quickly as possible, but recognize that some patients have to wait longer than we would like. them to. All emergency calls are categorized according to the nature of a patient’s illness or injury and life-threatening ones always take priority.
Across England, 7 in 10 ambulance service trusts are now reporting “extreme pressures” on their services. Formerly called “black alert” incidents, this is only supposed to be in place for short periods of time, but has lasted for weeks in some areas.
Hospitals are also reorganizing their services to cope with the expected increase in the number of coronavirus patients over the coming weeks, which could see between 1,000 and 2,000 patients per day admitted.
Sheffield University Hospital today opened a new Covid ward and reduced some elective surgeries. A message to staff seen by The independent said senior officials had agreed that “some elective clinical work will have to stop.”
The trust has seen the number of Covid patients drop from three to 54 in the past two out of nine weeks in intensive care. Most are under 50 and unvaccinated, the trust said.
A spokesperson said the trust has now opened a 12-bed Covid ward to deal with a growing number.
In anticipation of other cases this week and next week, we have opened a 12-bed COVID service that we have staffed for.
At the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, staff learned that an escalation in Covid cases over the weekend meant that a room at the city’s hospital site, which is normally used for planned operations, would be rather used as “extra capacity” for sick patients. No operations have yet been delayed.
In Liverpool, staff said The independent plans were underway to open an emergency department at Royal Liverpool University Hospital where there were more than 80 Covid patients in the hospital, including 19 in intensive care on Friday.
One clinician said: “I don’t think people realize how pressured hospitals are already in this fourth wave. Our staff is exhausted, morale is at its lowest.
They said there were so few medical beds that the trust already had to transfer patients between hospitals and other areas just for capacity reasons.
They added: “Some intensive care beds are closed because we don’t have enough staff for them, at least five beds are closed for this reason. “
Matthew Taylor, director general of the NHS Confederation, said the government’s plan was essentially a gamble: “The NHS is under intense and increasing pressure where it looks like winter in summer, not only in hospitals but in primary care, mental health, in ambulances and in community services.
“The government has made the decision to lift all restrictions on Covid-19, but it’s a gamble and with nearly 50,000 cases and increasing, and some predicting that we could reach 200,000 a day later this summer, caution must be exercised. “
Ellen Ryabov, Director of Operations at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We continue to be under pressure on our bed capacity at Hull Royal Infirmary, but this past week has been no different from other weeks.
“We haven’t seen a large number of patients waiting in our emergency department for the length of time described, although some patients wait much longer than we would like to be admitted to a ward. We apologize to them for these delays.
“Like other hospitals, some of our employees have had to self-isolate in recent weeks and this has had an impact on our services.
“We have been able to minimize cancellations of planned surgeries with staff and resources redeployed to other areas to ensure elective activities continue.
“We have no intention of canceling future elective activities, but we keep this under constant review. “