The NHS intensive care units are busier than in 2019, despite more than 700 beds

Coronavirus patients in NHS intensive care units are already “competing” for ventilators to keep them alive as infections and hospital admissions caused by the disease in London, a doctor warned.

Dr. Megan Smith of Guy & # 39; s and St Thomas & # 39; Hospital Trust in the capital said medical professionals are faced with "dire" decisions as they have to decide which patients will have access to life-saving treatment for Covid-19 and which Not.

And she warned that an expected surge in patients triggered by people mingling with family and friends over Christmas has not even begun. The situation is likely to worsen later this month and in February.

Official NHS figures show intensive care units across the country are facing more problems this winter, despite an average of 743 extra beds being made available per day to cope with Covid patients.

Data from NHS England shows 743 critical care beds were available in the last week of December than the same week of 2019 – 4,394 versus 3,651.

In the same week, there were an average of 828 more patients in intensive care – 3,340 up from 2,512 in December 2019 – suggesting the Covid-19 strain is larger than the hospitals themselves had prepared in cases.

Many of the extra beds are in London – 253 of them – but even that was not enough to prevent the rise in coronavirus patients.

By Christmas week, two hospitals' intensive care units were 100 percent full, and another 11 out of 18 were more than 90 percent full, each with fewer than six beds for new patients.

In the past few days, dismal reports have surfaced in the capital of forcing some of the major hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients in ambulances outside or dismantling wards to make room for intensive care patients.

Although the city has a huge nightingale hospital at the Excel center, nursing unions say there aren't enough staff to manage it and the equipment has been removed since it was put on standby over the summer.

NHS bosses warn that even hospitals that are not full or almost full will have more problems than usual due to the sickness rate of staff and the fact that beds have to be more distributed around the hospital due to social distancing.

Medics are picking up a patient from an ambulance at Royal London Hospital this morning, January 1st

Medics are picking up a patient from an ambulance at Royal London Hospital this morning, January 1st

Dr. Smith said in an interview with ITN today, “It's not a position any of us would ever want to be in, and we're used to making tough decisions as doctors, but choosing a ventilator based on the outcome of a competition is easy not what someone signed up for.

& # 39; In terms of emotional trauma to these people, it's terrible. We shouldn't have to do it, but we are. & # 39;

She explained that the increase in patients that London's hospitals are already grappling with probably doesn't even include many of the people who inevitably get coronavirus over Christmas.

"The patients we are seeing now – and we are already higher than the peak we had in March and April – were infected two or three weeks ago," added Dr. Smith added.

“The patients we'll see as a result of the rules being relaxed around Christmas, and the people who don't necessarily obey the rules properly, we'll see in two or three weeks.

"I think January and February are going to be the toughest and most terrifying months most healthcare workers will ever face in their careers."

Health Department data shows 23,813 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the UK on December 28, the latest numbers.

This is more than at any other time during the pandemic, even during the devastating first wave in March and April.

About 1,847 of these people were ventilated in intensive care units, while others were in intensive care units but were not ventilated.

Weekly NHS figures show that despite efforts to set up more intensive care beds in England, the wards are still significantly busier than they were in December 2019.

Intensive care for adults was around 76 percent full for England in the last week of 2020, compared to 69 percent in the same week last year.

This was an average for the entire country, and some hospitals in the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus were 100 percent full, with no extra intensive care beds for the entire week, and possibly even longer.

Turning to London, now once again the epicenter of the country's crisis, data shows that 13 out of 18 hospital trusts in the city had six or fewer ICU beds available to admit new patients last week.

Ambulances queued outside the Royal London Hospital last night, where bosses said they were in "disaster mode" with only one nurse for every three Covid patients

Ambulances queued outside the Royal London Hospital last night, where bosses said they were in "disaster mode" with only one nurse for every three Covid patients

Two hospital trusts had no vacant intensive care beds and three had an average of only one extra bed during the week.

Critical care is usually a last-ditch effort to save the life of someone who is beginning to die from coronavirus and is reserved only for the sick. Elderly patients who are too weak to survive the harmful effects of ventilators are usually excluded.

A comparison of the intensive care units in London with a year earlier shows that the city's busiest intensive care units were 86 percent busy in 2019, compared to 100 percent this year. Only five hospitals are less full this year than the busiest last year.

Daily hospital admissions in England have risen sharply since the national lockdown ended on December 2nd and are now worse in some parts of London than they were in the spring.

When the UK declared a record high of 55,892 coronavirus cases and nearly 1,000 more deaths yesterday, the executive director of the University College London Hospitals Trust (UCLH) said the intake was "much more" than during the first wave in the spring.

Professor Marcel Levi announced that the 550-bed hospital now has 220 Covid patients, with the number increasing by five percent per day.

He added that the "real pressure" is in the intensive care unit, which now has "70 very sick patients".

According to The Guardian, entire floors of the hospital are being dismantled and rebuilt so that they can be used as intensive care units. They will be equipped with oxygen and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines that make it easier for people to breathe.

In the meantime, the Royal London Hospital announced yesterday that it is in "disaster mode".

In an email to staff, heads of the hospital in Whitechapel in east London – Britain's busiest – warned that there is only one nurse for every three Covid patients.

"We are now in civil protection mode," the message reads. "We no longer offer high-standard intensive care because we don't … Things get harder before they get better."

Covid-19 hospital admissions in the UK have been rising steadily for weeks, driven by a surge in England after the second national lockdown in November caused only a brief drop in numbers

Covid-19 hospital admissions in the UK have been rising steadily for weeks, driven by a surge in England after the second national lockdown in November caused only a brief drop in numbers

Patients wait for beds inside for 24 hours, with some taking taxis to A&E to skip the line of ambulances waiting outside.

Medical professionals say the sheer number of patients who come to some hospitals means they can't always give the seriously ill people the care they need.

Dr. Pushpo Hossain, a 31-year-old junior doctor in London, told The Sun, “Never before have so many patients been in need of oxygen at the same time, and many NHS hospitals are old buildings that were not built to provide oxygen on such a large scale.

“We have the oxygen to supply patients, but what we don't have is the ability to make it available to everyone at the same time. We are constantly reviewing all of our patients to see who can deliver oxygen so we can reduce performance. & # 39;

In an interview with the newspaper, A&E medic Dr. Priyesh Patel added: “In A&E we often run out of bed and I had to see seriously ill patients in ambulances because they waited over four hours to get to the hospital.

"In the Resus department, where we are fighting to save the sickest patients, we can no longer contribute because there is no space."

The NHS says that while not all hospitals are full, those who are not under much more pressure than usual due to the way wards must operate to stop the spread of Covid-19.

NHS England states on its website that coronavirus precautions are causing beds and staff to be used differently within the hospital in both emergency and elective situations than in previous years.

& # 39; Therefore, caution should be exercised when comparing the overall occupancy rates between this year and previous years.

"In general, hospitals will face capacity pressures at lower overall occupancy rates than they would have been before."

Doctors say they refuse orders not to give a second dose of vaccine

Doctors say they will defy government orders to give a second dose to elderly patients who received a second dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on their first bursts.

A dispute has broken out over ministers' decision to ration vaccines to ration single doses to as many people as possible in an effort to stem the tide of Covid deaths.

Officials warning that supply shortages could last until spring said patients who already had a dose of the vaccine should postpone their second – which they were told would receive three weeks later – for up to 12 weeks to let.

But doctors have been outraged, saying they will not deny vulnerable patients the vaccines they promised them because they fear the one-dose shocks will not work as well.

General practitioners criticized the policy as "grossly unfair" and frustrated scientists warned that clinical trials of the vaccine only tested how well it worked with a three-week gap, so there is no evidence that the new regimen would work long-term.

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said in a letter with his colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that a single dose could provide 70 percent protection and that it would be more effective in a larger number of people than 95 percent protection in half as many .

Margaret Keenan, the first person in the world to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, received her second bump earlier this week.

But thousands of others across the UK will postpone their second appointments so the NHS can focus on providing more people with bumps.

According to the Department of Health, a total of 944,539 people across the UK had received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by December 27.

Essex has already reported a "major incident" as the number of coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm the six hospitals and ambulances queuing outside of A&E across the country due to the lack of beds and staff.

Gareth Grier, an A&E consultant at Barts Health NHS Trust in east London, said today: "If Covid patients are left in corridors, Covid will spread like wildfire around the hospital. This must not happen.

“Corridor medicine, which was previously endemic in emergency rooms, would kill people and staff if it happened again. Hence the terrible, terrible possibility of treating patients outside of hospitals.

It has been reported that UK hospitals are left with limited labor, ward space, oxygen and even pillows. Patients were treated by medical professionals in ambulances as they waited up to six hours to be admitted.

In some cases, people were later diverted more than 100 miles away while some overcrowded London intensive care units asked large hospitals in Tyneside and Yorkshire if they would accept some of their Covid patients.

On the day the UK vaccine Oxford / AstraZeneca was approved for use yesterday, Essex declared a "major incident" in its six hospitals that allowed patients to move patients to another location to expedite discharge, additional Call in personnel and cancel non-emergency care and operations. The Department of Health and Welfare is expected to set out today what aid the Essex Government will provide.

Doctors in areas worst hit by the rising numbers of coronavirus cases have said they are "extremely fearful" and just days away from making "terrible decisions" about who to treat and who will die got to.

The chaos has been attributed to dwindling oxygen supplies, and NHS bosses say staff absenteeism is double normal due to illness and self-isolation. Some hospitals are asking nurses to return early from the Christmas break, and the January leave is now being banned by some trusts.

Social media footage showed that there were queues of ambulances outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and Queen & # 39; s Hospital in Romford, both in east London and Kent, last night when NHS Providers' deputy general manager, Saffron Cordery, warned of pressure on the NHS "rising at an unsustainable rate".

There have also been reports of delays in hospitals in East Anglia, South Wales and Birmingham, where Doctor Punith Kempegowda tweeted, “Just get off an & e after another long day. Almost all of these ambulances wait more than 3 hours with patients in them because there is no place in the hospital to bring them in.

There are also growing concerns about the number of people in their forties and fifties who have no underlying health problems in wards or even show up in intensive care units, a London doctor said.

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