Coronavirus UK: NHS hospitals treating MORE patients than in spring


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. There was chaos in spring when non-urgent ops were cancelled and the NHS is now fighting its way through a backlog of thousands.

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

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

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.’

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

Mid/South Essex

East Kent 

Maidstone

Portsmouth 

East Sussex

Barking, Havering

Frimley Health 

North Midlands

Dartford

Hull University

374

143  

85

130

68

171

276

134

79

44

785

415

299

342

257

356

453

304

241

191

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.

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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. 

The UK’s chief medical officers warned last night that there is a risk the health service could be overwhelmed within weeks as they upgraded the coronavirus risk level to the maximum level five.

In a letter written by the UK’s four CMOs – who include Professor Chris Whitty – and NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK chief medical officers and NHS England medical director recommend that the UK alert level should move from Level 4 to Level 5.

‘Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of Covid patients in hospitals and in intensive care.

‘Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

‘Although the NHS is under immense pressure, significant changes have been made so people can still receive lifesaving treatment.

‘It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS 111.’

 

Surgeons have warned that the rising numbers of patients being seen across the country could mean that cancer operations fall by the wayside again.

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.

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.

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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.’

IS YOUR HOSPITAL BUSIER NOW THAN IT WAS IN THE FIRST WAVE OF CORONAVIRUS LAST YEAR? (NHS England data) 
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 -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 -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%
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