Covid admissions to hospital jump 60% in 10 days, leak reveals

The northeast and Yorkshire is now seeing the largest increases in coronavirus patients

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Tuesday 03 November 2020 10:43
Coronavirus in numbers

The number of patients admitted to hospital wards in England has jumped more than 60 per cent in just 10 days, new leaked NHS data seen by The Independent has revealed.

Patients needing a ventilator to help them breathe has also increased by nearly 51 per cent as hospitals across the north of England and the Midlands report higher levels of Covid-19 patients than in the first wave of the pandemic.

The leaked data lays bare the strain on the health service from the second wave of Covid, which is increasing at a rate that would overtake the peak seen in April within a few weeks.

Scores of operations have been cancelled because of the squeeze on hospital capacity and staffing as NHS trusts attempt to keep some routine services going during the second wave. The data shows there are 70 per cent more people in hospital now than at the start of the spring Covid-19 peak

The surge in hospital admissions and subsequent spike in daily deaths was one factor which pushed the prime minister, Boris Johnson, into announcing a new national lockdown for England starting on Thursday.

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, accused Mr Johnson of a “catastrophic failure of leadership” in the House of Commons by not acting sooner on advice of scientists who recommended a “circuit breaker” lockdown on 21 September.

Liverpool University Hospitals Trust, which is at the centre of the second wave storm is facing enforcement action from the Care Quality Commission over safety concerns. The trust’s medical director has told colleagues the hospital is at 100 per cent capacity and can’t maintain standards.

In a leaked WhatsApp message, seen by The Independent, he accused bosses at NHS England of putting politics before safety and said the hospital had been “abandoned” by senior NHS leaders.

The latest daily test results show 18,950 positive cases identified yesterday with 136 deaths reported.

The latest analysis, based on internal NHS data from Monday obtained by The Independent, reveals the northeast and Yorkshire is now seeing a faster rate of increase in coronavirus admissions than the northwest, with a jump of 67 per cent in patient admissions in the last 10 days. The region now has 2,569 patients with coronavirus in hospital up from 1,531 on 22 October. This is equivalent to 15 per cent of hospital beds for the region.

The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough announced it would be cancelling some operations for the rest of the week as the number of Covid patients doubled in the last 10 days to 93. In a statement the trust said emergency care and day case procedures would go ahead with around 75 per cent of routine operations unaffected.

The trust said: “Our teams are pulling out all the stops but we cannot do this alone, which is why we’re appealing to people to follow the national guidance to help keep themselves and everyone else safe.”

Across England the number of coronavirus patients has jumped since 22 October from 6,100 to 9,862 – a rise of 61 per cent. In total, 10 per cent of hospital beds across England are occupied by patients with Covid-19.

The number of patients needing oxygen is up 70 per cent since 22 October to 7,961 patients. The number on ventilators has surged 56 per cent to a total of 883.

These figures are expected to worsen in the next two weeks because of the accepted lag time between someone becoming infected and needing hospital treatment. The government’s Sage committee has also warned deaths are likely to surpass the worst case scenario prediction and could reach in excess of 500 per day in coming weeks.

In the northwest, the number of Covid patients admitted to hospital has increased by 42 per cent, to 2,817.

Last night, the North West Ambulance Service declared a major incident due to the volume of calls it received from the public and issued a statement warning the public of “long delays” in responding to calls.

Staff members agreed to cancel their meal breaks to keep working to try and tackle the huge volume of calls which at one stage was reported to include hundreds of live incidents needing an ambulance. West Midlands Ambulance Service sent staff to help its neighbouring service.

The regional impact of coronavirus continues to be felt predominantly in the north of England. Lancashire and South Cumbria now has 672 patients in hospital, a rise of 23 per cent.  

In Greater Manchester, there are now 1,116 coronavirus patients in hospital, a 62 per cent rise since 22 October. This is in line with the worst case trajectory for the region, leaked to The Independent on Friday which predicted hospitals in the region would run out of intensive care beds by the end of the month.

At the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, it had 28 per cent of beds filled with coronavirus patients, 314 in total.

The South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw has also been hit hard by the virus with 25 per cent of beds taken up by Coronavirus – equivalent to 25 per cent of all beds.

University Hospitals North Midlands Trust, in Stoke-on-Trent, said it had 235 Covid patients compared to 160 at the peak in April.

Chief nurse Michelle Rhodes said staff were “working round the clock” to care for patients and maintain non-Covid activities.  

Dr Sue Crossland, president of the Society of Acute Medicine added: “The northwest is struggling in particular, as is most of Yorkshire. Trusts are rapidly meeting capacity quickly meaning there are long delays for patients and overcrowding is a serious concern for nosocomial [in-hospital] spread.

“I still see no evidence that an unstaffed Nightingale is going to be useful if it takes staff from the other acute trusts, some of whom are reporting huge and unsustainable amounts of sickness/self isolation.

“We are now at a point where we have to minimise the risk between caring for Covid patients and ensuring that other patients waiting for urgent treatment are also cared for in a timely fashion.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to square this circle.”

A spokesperson for the NHS said: “NHS doctors and nurses in many areas of England are now treating more Covid-19 patients than at the peak of the first wave and the key to sustaining services is ensuring rising coronavirus admissions don’t displace other care, as is currently happening in some French, German and Dutch hospitals, as well as parts of the North West and Midlands.

“Hospitals have used the opportunity over the summer since the first covid wave both to prepare for winter and to ramp up routine operations, screening and other services, and GPs are now providing more appointments than this time last year."

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