Coronavirus Patients Admitted To Wards Since Christmas Could Fill 20 Hospitals
The NHS chief executive described the situation facing the health service as "incredibly serious" (PA)
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said that the number of people admitted with Covid-19 has increased by 10,000 since Christmas Day — the equivalent of filling 20 hospitals.
He warned that the health service is facing an “incredibly serious situation” and that staff are “living with the tragic consequences” of the virus being out of control.
Sir Simon's bleak assessment came after Health Service Journal published a leaked NHS briefing that said London hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed within a fortnight.
NHS England has reported 1,162 coronavirus deaths and 52,618 new infections in the UK for the last 24 hours.
Setting out the scale of the crisis, Sir Simon said the NHS had 50% more coronavirus in-patients in our hospitals now than it had at peak of the first wave.
“We've seen an increase of 10,000 hospitalised coronavirus patients just since Christmas Day. That's the equivalent of filling 20 hospitals with extra coronavirus patients,” he told the Downing Street press conference.
“And of course, many of those will be patients who've caught the infection between Christmas and New Year, given the delay between catching infection, and becoming seriously ill. And that is, of course, all happening at what is traditionally the busiest time of year for hospitals and the wider NHS."
He continued: “So whereas in April for every one coronavirus inpatient we were looking after two other hospitalised patients for other conditions.
“Now for every one coronavirus impatient we're looking after three other patients for other conditions. So the pressures are real, and they are growing.”
The NHS chief said it was “vital” the UK control the growth of infection and that “there is nobody more motivated to deliver a vaccination programme speedily than the staff of the health service”.
At the televised briefing from Downing Street, Boris Johnson also announced further details of the vaccine rollout, including a promise that 100,000s of doses would be delivered daily by 15 January.
The Prime Minister promised that everyone would have a vaccination centre available within a 10 mile radius.
He said that a total of 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated across the UK including 1.26 million in England, 113,000 in Scotland, 49,000 in Wales and 46,000 in Northern Ireland.
"It is thanks to the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at room temperature, that we can accelerate the pace of vaccination in care homes.
"We're using that vaccine in care homes for the first time today and by the end of the month we hope to have offered every elderly care home resident a vaccine."
He admitted that there would be “difficulties” in delivering the vaccine rollout, but insisted delays “will not be on our distributional power, but on the supply of vaccines”.
He said the armed forces, which have been drafted in to assist with the vaccination programme, were “working hand in glove with the NHS and local councils to set up our vaccine network and using battle preparation techniques to help us keep up the pace.”