Hospitals in Blackpool, Newcastle and Liverpool seeing two thirds as many Covid patients as at peak

NHS hospitals in Blackpool are treating up to 65 per cent as many patients as they were at the peak of the outbreak in April, statistics show.

In Newcastle and Liverpool, admission rates are nudging closer numbers not seen for six months as the second wave of Covid-19 rips through the North of England.

Cases of the disease have been rising markedly since mid-August and, as it works its way deeper into society and reaches older age groups greater numbers of people are being admitted to hospital. Figures suggest one in four people who test positive in the UK end up in hospital.

At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, 17 people were admitted with coronavirus on September 28, 61 per cent of the peak level of 28 seen on May 23.

The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS trust saw nine patients admitted on both September 25 and 29, marking 41 per cent of the maximum 22 in one day on March 30.

And at Liverpool University Hospitals the 22 people admitted on September 28 was 32 per cent of the peak of 68 on the last day of March.

The data comes from a monthly NHS report and admissions have continued to rise in the first week of October but their locations are not yet publicly available. 

It comes as leaked public health documents have warned parts of the North West could see admissions surge past their worst levels before the end of this month if more action isn’t taken.

Local officials say it is ‘extremely likely’ that the number of inpatients will rise above 3,000 in October – higher than the maximum 2,890 in April and possibly double to 6,000, according to a report seen by the Health Service Journal

Public health staff said it may even be too late to stop this happening because so many people are already infected.

Out of hospital trusts with more than five admissions per day in the last week of September, Blackpool’s Teaching Hospitals NHS trust is nudging closest to levels seen during the peak of the outbreak with 17 people admitted on September 28 compared to 28 on May 23. (The graph compares the highest number of daily admissions in the last week of September with the highest number during the peak of the epidemic in March, April or May for each area)

Out of the 10 worst-affected hospital trusts that are seeing admissions rise to more than 10 per cent of peak levels, nine are in the North.

As well as Blackpool, Newcastle and Liverpool they include trusts in St Helens & Knowsley in Merseyside, Bolton, Leeds, Greater Manchester and Manchester city, and South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Barts Health NHS Trust in East London is the only place in the southern half of the country to be included, with levels at 10 per cent of their peak.

This data only includes trusts where there were an average of five or more people admitted per day in the last week of September.

HEALTH MINISTER NADINE DORRIES WARNS ADMISSIONS COULD HIT ‘CRITICAL STAGE’ IN 10 DAYS 

Health minister Nadine Dorries said today that admissions are heading for a ‘critical stage’ again and that more action must be taken to stop them getting overwhelmed. 

‘Those who now claim that further measures are not needed,’ Ms Dorries said in a tweet, ‘will in about 10 days from now, when hospital admissions are at a critical stage, argue that we didn’t do enough.

‘We must do all we can to prevent our ICUs #NHS from becoming overwhelmed’.

But NHS figures published today show that 15 times as many hospital beds in England were occupied by Covid-19 patients on on April 12 as on October 1.

The most recent point shows that 1.82 per cent of beds are taken up with people by coronavirus, with the rate 12 times higher in the North West (4.12 per cent) than in the South West (0.33 per cent).

This equates to 2,069, compared to 18,970 on April 12.

At the peak of the crisis, 27 per cent of all beds in the country were taken up by people with Covid-19. That was highest in London where people with coronavirus took up 40 per cent of all the city’s hospital beds. 

A vast majority of NHS trusts – 153 out of 206 – are admitted an average of one or no patients per day during that period, showing that a small number of hospitals are making up almost all of the rise in patients.

Health minister Nadine Dorries said today that admissions are heading for a ‘critical stage’ again and that more action must be taken to stop them getting overwhelmed. 

‘Those who now claim that further measures are not needed,’ Ms Dorries said in a tweet, ‘will in about 10 days from now, when hospital admissions are at a critical stage, argue that we didn’t do enough.

‘We must do all we can to prevent our ICUs #NHS from becoming overwhelmed’. 

NHS figures published today also show that 15 times as many hospital beds in England were occupied by Covid-19 patients on on April 12 as on October 1. 

The most recent point shows that 1.82 per cent of beds are taken up with people by coronavirus, with the rate 12 times higher in the North West (4.12 per cent) than in the South West (0.33 per cent).

At the peak of the crisis, 27 per cent of all beds in the country were taken up by people with Covid-19. That was highest in London where people with coronavirus took up 40 per cent of all the city’s hospital beds.

In two NHS trusts there are currently more than one in 10 beds taken up by coronavirus patients – South Tees NHS Trust (10.85 per cent) and the University Hospitals of Morecambe in Lancashire (10.69 per cent). They have a combined 65 patients with coronavirus.

A total of 15 hospital trusts have more than one in 20 of their beds – five per cent – taken up by people with Covid-19.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, reportedly told MPs today that intensive care patient numbers could hit April levels in three weeks’ time.

One anonymous MP who was in the meeting with Professor Whitty told The Guardian: ‘The really scary thing for the North West and North East is that the projection is for there to be more people in intensive care within three weeks – 22 days actually – than there were in the first wave. 

‘Even though the figures are being driven by the under-30s, Whitty and co are clearly very worried.’

Professor Whitty’s warning chimes with the contents of reports leaked from public health officials in the North. 

A briefing from the council in Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire, seen by the Health Service Journal, made a similar prediction and said it is ‘extremely likely’ that hospital admissions will be worse than ever if tougher action isn’t taken.  

The document, sent to public health staff around Greater Manchester and Lancashire said: ‘It is reasonable to assume no impact can be made in the increasing trend in bed occupancy for at least the next two weeks, as these cases have already occurred.

‘Even if a full scale lockdown was called tomorrow bed occupancy would continue to rise after the next two weeks as hospital beds fill quicker than they empty for COVID patients.

‘During the first peak in April hospital bed occupancy reached its maximum point in the North West at 2,890 on 13 April.

‘It is extremely likely that this will happen in 17 to 22 days. If nothing changes in terms of downward pressure on R [reproduction rate] in the next 10 days, hospital bed occupancy will start to approach 6,000 in 30 to 35 days.

‘This is double the number of beds occupied at the peak in the North West in April.’

Public Health England’s medical director, Dr Yvonne Doyle, said today: ‘

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England, said: ‘We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning.

‘It remains essential that we all continue to socially distance, wash our hands regularly, wear a face covering when needed, and follow the guidance if living in an area with additional restrictions.

‘Numbers of deaths from Covid-19 are also rising so we must continue to act to reduce transmission of this virus.’ 

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