Blackburn hospital already has more coronavirus patients now than at peak of pandemic

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

A hospital in Blackburn already has more Covid patients now than at the peak of the pandemic in April, as one doctor says he is more concerned about running out of oxygen than space.

Currently, the Royal Blackburn Hospital is at 25% of its capacity with 240 Covid-19 patients.

This is a stark contrast to April - at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic - where the hospital had 140 patients.

A critical care consultant at Royal Blackburn Hospital told ITV News of the pressures his team and hospital are facing and how critical it is that the local infections do not significantly increase.

Dr Ian Stanley said: "We might have got to a situation where critical care capacity was becoming compromised, unless community transmission was reduced significantly, then there was a significant risk we would get to that position in a week or two's time."

But he added: "We haven't got to that situation, our plans have kicked in and our plans have meant that we haven't got to that situation but again the modelling that we were seeing was demonstrating that unless community transmission reduced significantly then there was a significant risk we would get to that situation."

A 38-year-old Covid-19 patient, who is on an acute ward at the hospital, told ITV News of her sadness at losing her friend to coronavirus.

Emma Morgan, who was admitted just a day ago, said: "I've lost a friend from corona and it weren't a good sight seeing him going. 

"And I'm here today, to tell people what it's like and how it feels," she added.

Her comments come as medics at the hospital fear they may soon have to choose who to treat, with local cases rising sharply, as last week Blackburn had England's worst infection rate.

The hospital are still keeping elective care running, and the chief executive has said they will keep it going as long as possible.

They made the mistake of stopping it too early during the first wave, he said.

The average age of patients here is in their 60s but there are also some worrying differences.

ICU Matron, Linda Gregson, told ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan: "We're seeing quite a few females this time, we're are still seeing a majority of males.

"The average age group is about 63 but there are a lot of gentlemen who are younger and females as well."

New data also shows that 19% of beds in facilities operated by the East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, which includes the Royal Blackburn, are now occupied by patients who have tested positive for Covid-19. 

Blackburn had the worst rate of new infections across England last week.

In the latest rolling seven-day rate of new cases of Covid - the area had 1,150 new cases in the seven days up to October 26 - equivalent to a rate of 768.2.