3 Nightingales of the North are put on standby
Daily Mail, Great Britain (United Kingdom), 13 October 2020, https://www.pressreader.com/article/281629602741364
THREE Nightingale hospitals are being mobilised to deal with spiralling cases of coronavirus in northern England.
The temporary critical care hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been told to ‘ prepare for the next phase’.
NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis yesterday warned there are now more people in hospital with Covid-19 than before the national lockdown was announced in March.
He told the Downing Street press conference that, unless the spread of the virus slows down, hospitals in the North West and North East could be treating more patients within the next four weeks than during the virus peak.
It came as Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Steve Warburton told staff in a memo that it had reached a ‘critical point’. The move follows reports hospital admissions in Liverpool are the third highest in Europe – and are on course to become the highest.
Mr Warburton revealed plans to scale back on planned procedures. In the message, seen by the Health Service Journal, he said the trust had restarted training for staff in preparation for additional demand for critical care and oxygen support. Yesterday’s briefing by Professor Powis and other Government medical advisers set the scene ahead of the
‘Prepare for the next phase’
tougher measures announced by the Prime Minister last night.
Officials said it will be left to local health leaders to decide whether the three Nightingale hospitals are used to treat virus patients or to ‘maintain elective and diagnostic services for patients with other conditions’.
It was announced that NHS staff in virus hotspots will also be given regular virus tests regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. Professor Powis said this measure – promised months ago by ministers – would be vital to ‘keep staff and patients at these hospitals safe’.
The pledge came days after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the NHS risked becoming a ‘Covid-only’ service without it. Officials said the NHS was well-prepared and had ‘ learned a lot from the first wave’, with 14-day survival rates in intensive care rising from 72 to 85 per cent. Professor Powis said there is enough personal protective equipment for health and social care to last four months.
Meanwhile, in a plea to the public, he said keeping virus infections under control would be key to other patients getting the treatment they need. He stressed: ‘Liverpool University Hospital has the highest number of Covid- 19 patients – currently more than 250 patients with Covid in its beds.
‘And in the last four weeks hospitals in the North West and the North East have witnessed a seven- fold increase in Covid patients in their intensive care units. If infections continue to rise, in just four more weeks they could be treating more patients than they were during the peak of the first wave.’
Figures show that 3,451 virus patients were in hospital in England on October 11 compared with 3,097 on March 23. However, despite the rising admissions, fewer patients now require ventilation, suggesting treatments like the steroid dexamethasone are working. In the North West, 350 patients were on ventilators at the peak of the epidemic on April 11, compared to 132 on Sunday.
In the North East and Yorkshire, 302 were on ventilators at the peak compared to 99 on Sunday.
Dr Jane Eddleston, of Manchester Royal Infirmary, told the briefing the North West has about 40 per cent of all current Covid-19 cases. A Manchester University study seen by HSJ says hospitals in the North West could see around 850 virus deaths within the next five weeks. Professor Andrew Goddard, of the Royal College of Physicians, said the briefing showed ‘for certain that we are now in the second wave of Covid-19’.
He warned: ‘It is currently centred in the North West and North East of England, but it is going to spread to other areas.’
Standing ready: Nightingale hospital in Sunderland