NIGHTINGALE hospitals have been placed on standby across the North — where up to a third of critical care beds are already taken by Covid patients.
Around four in ten of all coronavirus cases are in the North West, health bosses say.
Nightengale hospitals have been placed on standby across the North — where up to a third of critical care beds are already taken by Covid patients
Bosses say around four in ten of all coronavirus cases are in the North West
It has led to NHS leaders “mobilising” three overflow Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate.
It was also revealed yesterday that more people across England are now in hospital with Covid than on March 23 — the day national lockdown was imposed.
But experts say deaths during this second wave of the virus could be less than half seen in the first. Dr Jane Eddleston, an intensive care consultant at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said admissions were rocketing in the region.
She added: “We have seen a threefold increase in the number of patients admitted to intensive care in the last five weeks and an eightfold increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals.
“The situation is that 30 per cent of our critical care beds are taken up by patients with Covid. This is starting to impact on the services we provide for other patients.”
NHS figures show there are 3,665 Covid patients on English wards.
It compares with 3,097 when Boris Johnson shut down the country in late March.
But the daily Covid-19 infection rate is running at 13,972 — way under Sir Patrick Vallance’s warning of 50,000 by mid-October.
And scientists and MPs said despite hospital admissions matching levels before the spring peak, deaths are unlikely to follow suit.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, added: “We are certainly not in the same place as we were in March.
“Younger patients are more likely to get infected and there are better treatments and medical care. A reasonable guess would be death rates will be around half the first wave.”
NHS bosses warn that within a month hospitals in the North will be treating more patients than the first peak unless infections are curbed.
Prof Stephen Powis, health service National Medical Director, said: “We have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.
“They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary.”
Prof Powis said the NHS is open for all patients, but other services could only run smoothly if infection rates remained under control.
He added: “Liverpool University Hospital has the highest number of Covid patients, currently more than 250.
“If infections continue to rise, they could be treating more patients than they were in the peak of the first wave.”
In the North West, 350 people were on ventilators at the peak of the epidemic on April 11. The figure as of October 11 was 132.
In the North East and Yorkshire, 302 were on ventilators at the peak. On October 11, the figure was 99.
It comes as Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust boss Steve Warburton says the situation has reached a “critical point”.
In a leaked memo, seen by the Health Service Journal, he admitted non-emergency ops would have to be cancelled.
And Government advisers warn Britain should be braced for an inevitable rise in Covid deaths.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, said fatalities are “baked in”.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, he added: “I want to be clear that as patients become ill with Covid-19, they don’t immediately go into hospital.
“Already with the cases we know about, we have baked in additional hospital admissions and, sadly, we also have baked in additional deaths that are now consequent upon infections that have already happened.”
Prof Van-Tam said the current steep rise in cases was a “nationwide phenomenon” and warned more parts of the country are “heating up”.
And Prof Powis also revealed NHS data shows a “steep rise” in over-65s being admitted to hospital.
NHS staff in the highest risk areas will be regularly screened for the virus to help spot silent spreaders.
Since summer, care home staff have received weekly Covid swabs in a bid to protect vulnerable residents
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