Covid: ICU doctor warns of 'massive cost to NHS staff' as England records highest daily rise in cases

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

An intensive care doctor has warned maintaining care for Covid-19 hospital patients has "come at a massive cost to NHS staff".

Dr Rafik Bedair, a Consultant in Intensive Care at St George's Hospital in London, told ITV News: "We are stretching them a lot and our staff are working very, very hard but obviously there will come a point beyond which we can stretch them no further."

His comments come as England has recorded its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began with 50,746 positive tests.

This is the fourth day in a row that there were more than 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the UK recorded in the past 24 hours, which brings the total number of cases in the UK to 2,542,065.

Another 2,434 people have been admitted to hospital and 613 people have died.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show that more than 88,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK.

But the figures for deaths and cases are likely to be higher as Wales and Northern Ireland are not releasing death or case data on New Year's Day, and Scotland are not providing death data over that same period.

Dr Bedair said: "We have all seen the projections in terms of the increase in the numbers of infections we are seeing and how that's going to translate into hospital admissions. Now a proportion of those will end up in intensive care.

"Our main concern is that as those numbers rise, we may come to a point where we are unable to stretch our intensive care resources beyond what we have - either because we don't have physical spaces to actually move into.

"Or more importantly, we may get to the point where we have stretched our staff resource beyond what we can do and maintain the quality of care that we would expect to do for an ICU patient."

Nurses caring for a patient in an intensive care ward Credit: Steve Parsons/PA


A further 420 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 50,668, NHS England said on Friday.

Patients were aged between eight and 100. All except 12, aged between 55 and 90, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between November 24 and December 31.

There were 39 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

Mobile testing centres set up in parts of London to test secondary school pupils for Covid. Credit: PA


Public Health Wales are not releasing their daily Covid-19 figures on New Year's Day.

Instead, they will be combined with Saturday's data.


A further 2,539 people have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the latest data from the Department of Health.

It is unknown how many deaths have occurred in the last 24-hour reporting period as the Scottish government are limiting the amount of data they release between 1 January to 4 January.