Local CCG: ‘Half of patients in hospital’ with covid as NHS creaks under ‘extreme’ pressure

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Bedford Hospital entrance

Around half of the patients in hospitals across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have covid, a meeting was told.

Although the actual number of patients was not reported to the governing body of the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes clinical commissioning group (BLMK), it has put the NHS locally under ‘extreme pressure’.

On 19 January, it was reported that Bedford Hospital was treating a record 186 covid inpatients, which is double the first and second waves.

Patricia Davies, the accountable officer for BLMK CCG, which provides and monitors the money for health services across the region, told Tuesday’s meeting that the area has seen “rising transmission rates”.

And even though the rate has started to drop, it is “very early days” and that that has not yet translated into fewer numbers of patients being admitted.

“We are now at the point where 50 per cent of the patients across our hospitals are covid positive,” she said.

She appealed to the public to continue to stick to the guidelines on social distancing, wearing face coverings, staying at home, and regular hand washing.

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“It’s having a huge impact on human beings’ lives, including our loved ones and it’s putting huge strain on our remarkable clinicians and health and social care staff who are desperate to provide the best quality service,” she said.

Giving an update on the roll out of the vaccine, Dr Sarah Whiteman said: “We have got it, given it and haven’t wasted a drop.”

Ms Davies said the roll out was going well but added that, because of the scale of the operation there will: “inevitably be a few bumps in the road.”

The meeting was told that people will be called in line with the national guidelines when it is their turn for the jab.

Dr Geraint Davies, the BLMK director of performance and governance, said: “It’s a marathon not a sprint.”

The meeting was also given updates on how the response to the pandemic is affecting other patients.

Members heard that waiting lists are rising and that some patients have been put off going to hospitals because they fear catching covid.

Health leaders are focusing on making sure that cancer patients can receive treatment.

BLMK chief nurse Anne Murray said that despite “immense pressures” they have been able to maintain diagnostics, treatment, therapy and screening and are keeping an eye on surgery which is “at risk” because of the demand for intensive care beds.

She said that the health service has a regional back up plan but they have “not yet asked for regional aid.”

There is also a growing pressure on mental health services during what she called a “very very challenging time.”

Asked if the numbers could be clarified, the communications team at BLMK CCG said: “I am afraid we are not able to provide specific bed occupancy numbers at the acute trusts.”

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