London intensive care patients sent to Newcastle as hospitals struggle to cope

15 January 2021, 19:04

London patients are being sent to Newcastle to relieve pressure on the capital's hospitals
London patients are being sent to Newcastle to relieve pressure on the capital's hospitals. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Intensive care patients in London are being sent to Newcastle for treatment as hospitals in the capital struggle to cope with rising Covid-19 admissions.

Seriously ill patients are making the 300-mile journey to the North East as the NHS tries to ease the burden on hospitals in London and the South East.

It is reported that hospital trusts in the North of England, the Midlands and other lesser-hit areas have been told to release hundreds of spare ICU beds to patients from the hardest-hit places.

Read more: Covid hospital admissions to peak in 'next seven to 10 days', Chris Whitty warns

Over 37,000 people in the UK are being treated for the virus in hospitals, with the bulk of them in the capital, Kent and Essex.

In the past week around 4,000 new patients have been admitted every day - hundreds more than at the peak of the first wave.

PM: All travel corridors will close due to risk of new Covid strains

It comes as staff at the Royal Blackburn Hospital in Lancashire - the largest in the North West - warned they could face a crisis in the next two weeks due to a lack of beds.

They told LBC the number of patients currently in hospital with Covid-19 is double what it was back in March last year.

Read more: North West's largest hospital could reach 'crisis point' in the next two weeks

Estimates suggest they will need dozens more beds over the coming weeks, in hospitals already saturated with patients.

It comes as chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the peak of Covid-19 hospital admissions will be in the next week to 10 days for most of England.

He said "we hope" that the peak of infections "already has happened" in the South East, East and London, where there was a surge in the new variant, but will be later elsewhere.

Chris Whitty tells LBC it's 'very likely things will be a lot better in the spring'

But chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned that people should not mistake the peak for a sooner-than-expected relaxing of restrictions.

"This is not the natural peak that's going to come down on its own, it's coming down because of the measures that are in place," he said.

Read more: UK records another 1,280 Covid-19 deaths as cases rise by more than 55,000

"Take the lid off now and it's going to boil over for sure and we're going to end up with a big problem.

"And that's a lesson about making sure it's all cooled down enough before you get to that position.

"So I don't think we should view the point as a natural turning point in the disease, it is a suppressed peak that we need to keep on top of."

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