Hospitals in England are taking on a new coronavirus sufferer every 30 seconds, the head of the NHS revealed today.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said he could not “sugar-coat” the scale of the crisis on wards and in intensive care.
And he said a quarter of patients being hospitalised for Covid right now are aged under 55.
Sir Simon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Hospitals are under extreme pressure and staff are under extreme pressure.
“Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the inpatients in hospitals across England.
“That’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients.
“And staggeringly, every 30 seconds across England, another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.”
Speaking on a visit to Kingston Hospital in South West London he added: “That means for example that between now and lunchtime, this hospital would be full of new coronavirus patients.
“We’re seeing that not just in London and the South East where this new variant first let rip, but that is spreading into other parts of the country as well. The East of England, the Midlands and the North West – Merseyside is now right back under the cosh.”
Sir Simon said some patients were being transferred between regions, despite Boris Johnson’s claim on Friday that London’s intensive care units were not being overwhelmed.
Sir Simon was also asked about the vaccine rollout in England after 320,000 people had first doses in 24 hours.
He told the BBC the NHS was vaccinating at a rate of around 140 jabs a minute, and he was confident the NHS will have reached 1.5million vaccinations this week by the end of today
Doctors this week said they were being told to throw away leftover vaccine at the end of the day rather than give themselves second doses.
Sir Simon insisted that was “definitely not” the case, but said they should prioritise giving leftovers to staff or other priority groups who could come in at short notice.