NHS official warns of 'extreme pressure' hospitals are facing, as Covid cases rise

21 July 2021, 16:57

By Tim Dodd

NHS Confederation's Dr Layla McCay tells LBC the pressures being felt by hospitals now 'feel like winter but in summer', as coronavirus hospital admissions continue to rise.

The conversation comes as operations across England are cancelled and ambulance services are put on 'black alert', meaning they are under 'extreme pressure'.

Today the UK recorded 44,104 new Covid infections. By the 14 July 2021 there were 4,510 people admitted to hospital with Covid-19, an increase of 38.6% on the week before.

Shelagh began by saying: "I was speaking to a consultant at the weekend who said they are 50% down [on staff numbers] in some departments. So you have Covid patients increasing, you have a population who are no longer afraid to go to hospital, and you have that backlog to deal with as well.

"And it's that triple whammy that is clearly coming home to roost, and it's that which has made medics urge caution about unlocking in the manner that we did, and with the communication that we did.

"What would your communication be to people about how they use the NHS in these circumstances?"

Read more: Keir Starmer self-isolating after his child tests positive for Covid

Dr McCay replied: "Well anyone who needs care, of course you should come forward and seek that care. Nobody should be sitting there letting their condition get worse.

"The vaccination programme is being incredibly successful, and it is reducing the number of people with Covid who are needing hospital care.

"But don't forget, even a small number of people who need hospital care has a disproportionate effect on the capacity of that hospital. Because suddenly you're having to create extra space for isolation, and extra time to take on and off PPE equipment."

Read more: PMQs: Boris Johnson is a 'super spreader of confusion', Starmer says

Shelagh then recalled her time at A&E on the weekend where she saw an elderly man waiting who seemed to have an autistic spectrum disorder whose "distress was immense."

"NHS leaders tell us that the way in which they have to work at the moment it feels like winter in summer, in terms of the pressures they're experiencing," said Dr McCay.

"If Covid were to become much greater and need more hospital care then that's going to be incredibly disruptive."

Read more: Minister urges people to isolate when pinged ‘even if their wedding's the next day’