Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Doctor's fears in covid hotspot as wards start filling with virus patients again

A hospital in hard-hit Merseyside has had to open a fourth ward for coronavirus patients – just a week after it fenced off three areas for the care of virus sufferers.

Bosses say Whiston Hospital in Knowsley, near Liverpool, is at a ‘critical point’ in the pandemic as neighbouring facilities also edge towards full capacity.

Yesterday the Government warned Merseyside’s hospitals are the hardest hit in the country and admissions may reach the levels of the April peak within the next 10 days.

Staff at the Whiston say ‘the anxiety has come back’ after seeing patient numbers go up by nearly a third over the weekend.

Andy Ashton, an A&E consultant at Whiston Hospital, warned the situation may soon start to impact on those waiting for treatment for non-coronavirus ailments.

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He told the St Helens Star: ‘Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of Covid-positive patients being admitted to our hospitals, and this is extremely concerning for all of us here.

‘We have Covid-positive patients in intensive care once again and we’ve had to re-establish Covid cohort wards after being able to de-escalate all of these wards over the summer months.

‘The reality is that if the numbers continue to increase at the rate that they are increasing, we may have to prioritise treatment for the most clinically urgent cases, which means that patients who need more routine care could end up waiting longer.’



Across the country, there is widespread concern over spiralling numbers of coronavirus-related hospital admissions over the last few weeks.

It’s feared yesterday’s new lockdown measures won’t start to have an impact for at least a fortnight as people who will end up in hospital have already caught the disease.

The NHS has told three of the specially-commissioned Nightingale Hospitals in the north to be made ready to accept new patients ‘within the next few weeks.’

It’s after hospital admissions dropped to very low levels over the summer and clinicians were able to close Covid-19 wards and mothball the Nightingale sites.




Whiston Hospital has seen 14 deaths since the start of the month and the number of people in intensive care went from four on Monday, October, 5 to nine yesterday, according to the St Helens Star.

Nadine McStein, the ward manager for a respiratory ward at the hospital told the BBC that staff are still tired after the stress of dealing with the first wave.

She said: ‘At the time we worked off adrenaline and we worked off the pressures that we had to deal with. In a way, we’ve put our feelings to the back of our minds from the last wave, because it was so stressful.

‘And now that we’ve got this second wave, the anxiety has come back within the staff and within the trust.’

Knowsley – along with the rest of Merseyside- was yesterday placed in the ‘very high risk’ category of the Government’s new tiered lockdown system.

Pubs and bars will close and people have been banned from mixing with other households in almost all circumstances.

Hospitals in Liverpool have begun scaling back on some procedures after 250 beds were filled by coronavirus patients.

Footage from inside hospitals in Blackpool and Warrington has also shown ICU wards full of patients who say they are unable to breathe.

Metro.co.uk has contacted the St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust for comment.

MORE: Government was told to introduce ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown three weeks ago

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