Hospital staff are bracing themselves for a difficult second wave of coronavirus as intensive care units in the North West are getting busier.
Dr Indeewar Kapila, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine in Manchester, said medics are “extremely worried” about how the next few weeks will look in hospitals as cases continues to rise.
Asked whether he is worried about where hospitals in the North West will be in three or four weeks time, Dr Kapila said: “We’re extremely worried.
“I think if if the current situation continues, if we haven’t got some additional measures in place, then we are very concerned that in three or four weeks, perhaps even less than that, we will start seeing a rapid rise in admissions.”
Dr Kapila, who is chairman of the British Medical Association’s North West Regional Consultant Committee, said: “My message to the public would be to continue to treat this virus with respect and take all the measures that have been suggested by the Government, by Public Health England, by the local hospitals, the local community, to ensure that they’re protecting themselves as much as possible.
“I appreciate it’s very difficult to continue to live in the state that we’re in currently, which is having a huge impact on the population, economically, mentally and physically, but we have to continue to protect ourselves as much as possible, otherwise we may be facing a similar situation to the first phase.”
The consultant said the first wave of the pandemic had had a “significant” impact on staff.
“From a medical perspective, doctors and nursing staff were physically and mentally drained after the first wave,” he said.
“It had a huge impact on staff, there were a lot of people who went off sick because of Covid infection and other people have to take time off to look after family members.
“There’s certainly significant apprehension as the second wave starts picking up and there’s no doubt that a lot of staff are braced for the fact that they might have to go through a similar experience again.
“We’re very much hoping that that isn’t the case, and we’ve certainly learned a few lessons from the first wave, but as professionals we just have to get on and provide the best care we can for our patients.”
There's a strong possibility we're going to start seeing a significant rise in admissions to intensive care.
On his own intensive care wards, Dr Kapila said there is still capacity to treat patients but admissions are expected to grow.
“It is getting busier, there’s no doubt that hospitals themselves are very busy with lots of patients coming into the hospital with either suspected or confirmed Covid infection,” he said.
“At the moment, intensive care admissions are steady but it’s only a matter of time, in the next week or so, that we might start seeing a rapid rise in admissions.
“Given what the R value is in the North West, I think we, unless we see a dramatic change in the strategy, there’s a strong possibility we’re going to start seeing a significant rise in admissions to intensive care.”
He said medics were seeing patients in their 60s coming into hospital as well as older people but added there were younger patients as well.
“At the moment it’s hard to establish a clear pattern because the wave is on the upward slope.
“But I think in the next couple of weeks, we should start to get a better idea of the type of patient that we might be seeing.”
Asked if Greater Manchester should go into Tier 3, Dr Kapila said it was a difficult and emotive question to answer.
“We certainly need to take more stringent measures to try to protect the population, the local population in particular,” he said.
“I’ve certainly been hearing of versions of either Tier 3 or a circuit-breaker, that’s certainly what the national advisers are saying that we should perhaps be thinking about.”
He said Tier 3 restrictions had an economic impact on local populations but purely from an infection point of view, “we definitely need a stronger measure in place as soon as possible”.
He added that a “strong, short and sharp approach to this would do something to bring the numbers down”.