Sunday Mirror

ONE MIL­LION

Grim new mile­stone in UK in­fec­tions Fear wards could be full by Christ­mas Drugs may run out with a no-deal Brexit

- BY GERALDINE MCK­ELVIE CHRIS MCLAUGH­LIN Geraldine.mck­elvie@sun­daymir­ror.co.uk Health · Medicine · United Kingdom Department of Health · Department of Health and Social Care · Office for National Statistics · England · National Health Service in England · Midlands · Liverpool · Imperial College London · London · European Union · British Medical Association · United Kingdom · Jonathan Ashworth · South West England

HOS­PI­TALS could be closed to nonCovid pa­tients by Christ­mas, ex­perts warned, as the to­tal num­ber of coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions recorded in the UK topped one mil­lon.

The De­part­ment of Health said there were 21,915 new cases con­firmed in the past 24 hours, tak­ing the to­tal since the start of the pan­demic to 1,011,660.

Nearly 10,000 virus pa­tients are in hos­pi­tal, with 978 in ven­ti­la­tor beds.

The of­fi­cial Covid-19 death toll stands at 46,555, but ONS data record­ing cases where the virus is men­tioned on death cer­tifi­cates shows 62,000 fa­tal­i­ties.

The rise in in­fec­tions will heap more pres­sure on the NHS, with grow­ing con­cern it could soon be over­whelmed.

An NHS Eng­land re­port, which helped prompt Mr John­son’s lock­down U-turn, says hos­pi­tals in some ar­eas could run out of space “within two weeks”.

Dated Oc­to­ber 28, it says: “The Health Ser­vice may not be able to ac­com­mo­date any more pa­tients by Christ­mas, even if the Nightin­gales are all used and non-ur­gent pro­ce­dures are can­celled.”

The South West and Mid­lands would be the first to run out of beds, it said, “po­ten­tially within a fort­night”.

It goes on to say: “If there is no change of course the NHS will not be able to ac­cept any more pa­tients by Christ­mas.”

The grave alert im­plies fur­ther rises in the huge back­log of non-Covid pa­tients await­ing treat­ment for other po­ten­tially fa­tal ill­nesses, such as can­cer.

The news comes as sci­en­tists warn that virus deaths could hit 4,000 a day if a worst-case sce­nario plays out.

Prof Calum Sem­ple, of the Univer­sity of Liver­pool, said the na­tional spread was now “like a su­per­tanker”. He added: “It’s been slow, but now it’s run­ning riot across all age groups”.

Prof Sem­ple, who is a mem­ber of the Government’s Sage group of sci­en­tific ex­perts, also added: “The im­por­tant thing now is to try to keep ca­pac­ity in the NHS so that car crashes can be done and peo­ple who need in­ten­sive care or long-term care can be treated. This is about keep­ing the NHS open”.

Prof An­thony Gor­don, of Im­pe­rial Col­lege London, de­fended the im­po­si­tion of a na­tional lock­down.

He said: “We have to stop the speed of the virus be­cause if we don’t the health ser­vice will be over­whelmed.”

Fears over a lack of hos­pi­tal ca­pac­ity in the mid­dle of a bleak win­ter were made all the more stark by claims a no-deal Brexit on Jan­uary 1 could leave the NHS short of drugs and equip­ment.

A string of ex­perts have told the

Sun­day Mir­ror they fear the health ser­vice could be “cru­ci­fied” by sup­ply chain is­sues if we crash out of the EU while still bat­tling a surge in in­fec­tions.

Dr Richard Vautrey, the chair­man of the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “This could be the hard­est win­ter we

Amaz­ing NHS staff are now tired and de­mor­alised BMA CHIEF ON FEARS OF LOOM­ING WIN­TER CRI­SIS

have faced. There is a lot of con­cern about Brexit and what will hap­pen if proper flow of medicines is not main­tained.

“This cre­ates added worry. We en­tered the pan­demic with an in­suf­fi­cient work­force and in­suf­fi­cient fund­ing for the NHS.

“Our work­force has done amaz­ingly well to re­spond to this but staff are now tired and de­mor­alised as they try to gear them­selves up for an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult win­ter.”

The pro-Euro­pean pres­sure group Best for Bri­tain says it has found it “ex­tremely dif­fi­cult” to get the Government to an­swer ques­tions on whether drug stocks are suf­fi­cient.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Naomi Smith said: “We were rel­a­tively well-equipped at the start of this year be­cause we had al­ready stock­piled for no-deal. As far as I’m aware, many of th­ese stock­piles have now been de­pleted and not been re­stocked in the way they would need to be.

“We are re­peat­edly told, ‘It’s go­ing to be fine, we are go­ing to put pro­vi­sions in place,’ – but they don’t spec­ify what th­ese will be.”

One NHS man­ager told the Sun­day Mir­ror: “My fear is a hard Brexit while still in the sec­ond wave. It will kill us. I’ve been called a doom-monger but now peo­ple are say­ing, ‘ You’re right’.

“We coped in the last wave be­cause we had the stocks. Now, we’ve used them up and we don’t have the money or the space to start build­ing them up again.”

PPE sup­plies also re­mains a worry for staff, de­spite min­is­ters promis­ing four-months’ sup­ply of key kit would be in stock by Novem­ber.

A to­tal of 1,131 doc­tors told a BMA sur­vey they were “not at all con­fi­dent” enough of the life-sav­ing equip­ment would be pro­vided.

And two thirds of doc­tors said they were con­cerned about staff short­ages. Labour’s shadow health sec­re­tary Jonathan Ash­worth said the “NHS needs to be given the re­sources to keep pa­tients safe” af­ter “ten years of Tory un­der­fund­ing”.

He added: “The Government has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure the smooth sup­ply of vi­tal medicines and equip­ment.”

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 ??  ?? SPACE Nightin­gale hos­pi­tal, Sun­der­land
SPACE Nightin­gale hos­pi­tal, Sun­der­land
 ??  ?? BAT­TLE ON FRONT LINE NHS staff are brac­ing for a harsh win­ter
BAT­TLE ON FRONT LINE NHS staff are brac­ing for a harsh win­ter

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