Nottingham hospital numbers increasing by 'nearly full ward of people' a day

22 October 2020, 22:19

A ward at Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool
A ward at Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Nottingham City Council is asking for Tier 3 restrictions after the number of people on hospital wards began increasing "by nearly a full ward of people" every day.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust's chief executive Tracy Taylor said the city's Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) has exceeded 200 Covid patients over the past few days.

Councillor David Mellen, leader of the council, confirmed he had received an invite to meet with a Government minister on Thursday afternoon alongside county council leader Kay Cutts.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing that talks with the region have been "ongoing for a little while", adding: "There are talks taking place with West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire today."

Discussions between the region's leaders and the Government will continue on Friday morning.

However, Nottingham's case numbers have started to decline in recent days, with 610.1 cases per 100,000 people reported in the week to 18 October.

This is in contrast to 926.7 cases per 100,000 people in the previous week.

Despite the falling number of cases, Ms Taylor said some non-urgent surgery would have to be postponed due to a "dramatic" rise in hospital Covid-19 cases.

In a statement, she said: "We have made the difficult decision to postpone some of our non-urgent surgery and appointments until November 6 following a dramatic increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 in our hospital.

"Over the last few days we have exceeded 200 patients with the virus in the hospital, and every day this is increasing by nearly another full ward of people.

"Some of these patients, 16 at the time of writing, are sadly very unwell and receiving treatment by our critical care staff. Some more have also died with the virus in the last few days."

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Elsewhere, Liverpool's medical director has called for people to take action as the number of Covid patients has risen above levels at the peak of the first wave.

Dr Tristan Cope, from the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said he was "deeply concerned" about the increasing numbers.

On Wednesday, the trust, which includes the Royal, Broadgreen and Aintree hospitals in the city, had 408 inpatients with Covid-19, compared to 390 at the peak of the pandemic on 12 April.

Dr Cope said: "We remain deeply concerned about the rising rates of infection in Liverpool, as this leads to increasing numbers of patients admitted to our hospitals, many of whom we are treating in intensive care due to the serious nature of this disease for which there is still no cure or vaccine.

"While treatments have improved and there are better chances of survival, the number of people dying is rising every day.

"Our hospitals are continuing to provide care for non-Covid patients and it is vital that everyone takes action now to prevent more people getting sick from this virus, adhering to local restrictions, and following national guidance at all times, washing hands, wearing a face covering and making space by maintaining social distance."

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Last week the city region became the first area of the country to be made subject to Tier 3 restrictions, which include the closure of bars and pubs which are not serving food.

The area has seen some of the highest infection rates in the country in recent weeks, although rates are dropping.

Figures for the seven days up until 18 October showed a rate of 582.5 cases per 100,000 people, down from 681.1 in the previous week.

Chief nurse of the hospitals trust Dianne Brown wrote on Twitter: "As Covid rates @LivHospitals exceed the number back in April, need to recognise the impact this is having on our staff.

"Thank you to each and everyone of you, it is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting - you are doing an amazing job."

The numbers continue to fall in the areas with the highest rates in England.

In Knowsley, 1,000 new cases were recorded in the seven days to 18 October - the equivalent of 662.9 cases per 100,000 people.

This is down from 700.6 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to 11 October.

Nottingham has the second-highest rate and Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has dropped from 681.1 to 582.5, with 2,901 new cases.

Case rates have also continued to decrease in the cities of Newcastle, Exeter, Sheffield, Manchester and Oxford.

The news comes as Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's chief scientific adviser, said a widespread roll-out of a vaccine for Covid-19 is unlikely to take place before Spring 2021.

He said that while there has been "remarkable" progress made around the world, vaccines will not be in widespread use until some time next year.

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, he said it was too early to speculate about how effective a vaccine might be, but said the aim would be for a vaccine to allow the "release" of measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing.

"That's got to be an aim that we would all wish for and that's why so many companies around the world are working on vaccines and why there has been such remarkable progress," he said.

"Things are progressing well, there are vaccines that produce an immune response, they're in phase three clinical trials, we should be seeing some data read-outs over the course of this year, but I remain of the view that the possibility of wider-spread use of vaccines isn't going to be until spring or so next year by the time we get enough doses and enough understanding of the outputs to use them.

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"Now we may get a few doses this side of Christmas, maybe something could happen, but I think we should more realistically be looking at spring, and of course there are no guarantees until the studies have read out.

"So we need to be cautious and carry on, but there is a good progress in terms of the vaccines," Sir Patrick added.

Earlier this week, Sir Patrick said that only one disease - smallpox - had ever been completely eradicated.

Giving evidence to the joint committee on National Security Strategy, he said that, in the future, treating Covid-19 may become more like seasonal flu.

He said that over the next few months it will become clear whether there are any vaccines that do protect, and how long for, adding that while a number of candidates cause an immune response, only phase three trials will indicate whether they stop people from being infected.

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