Many NHS hospitals and intensive care units are “already overwhelmed” a medic has warned as the NHS is bracing for a further influx of Covid-19 patients.
Alison Pittard, dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said hospitals are already treating unprecedented numbers of patients.
And more are expected over the next seven to 10 days.
Figures from the NHS in England show that a record 34,336 Covid-19 patients were in hospital in England as of 8am on Monday January 18.
The figure is up 7% on a week ago, and up 94% since Christmas Day.
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When asked about remarks from the Health Secretary that the NHS was at risk of being overwhelmed, but was not yet at that point, Dr Pittard said: “There are many intensive care units and hospitals around the country that are already overwhelmed – seeing unprecedented numbers of cases, large numbers of very, very sick people, many of whom are dying.
“And there are staff who are almost on their knees, having been going through this non-stop for months and months and months.
“So I think healthcare professionals who hear their situation to be described as not being overwhelmed is unfair.”
She added: “We’ve already seen that the number of daily positive cases is falling, but we are expecting a further increase in hospital admissions and therefore, admissions to intensive care to go up over the next week to 10 days.
“So we’re nowhere near out of this at the moment and I am really concerned, not just for people who have to come into hospital with Covid and come to intensive care, but to all staff who are working in intensive care at the moment.”
Dr Pittard said that some may not think that intensive care units are overwhelmed because “we are still managing to look after everyone who would benefit from coming into intensive care”.
But this has only been made possible by ICU’s altering the way they work, for instance nurses being assigned multiple patients instead of just one and non-ICU staff being drafted in to help and ‘expanding’ ICUs, she added.