Nearly two-thirds of hospital beds in some London hospitals filled with Covid patients, says Prof Andrew Goddard
Almost two-thirds of beds at some London hospitals are being used to treat Covid-19 patients, the president of the Royal College of Physicians has told ITV News.
Asked if the NHS is likely to face more pressure in the coming weeks, Professor Andrew Goddard said: "It's hard to predict the future.
"There's no doubt that this new variant is more transmissible and the escalation of cases we've seen in south Wales, London, Essex, south-east England, has been at a much greater rate than what we've seen in the previous strains.
"If you look at the data, some of the hospitals in London at the moment, almost two-thirds of their beds that are available are filled with Covid patients.
"That is just a staggering statistic and has to make us all worried if that is going to happen across the whole of the UK."
It comes as frontline NHS staff have warned about the impact increasing admissions is having on both the welfare of patients and staff alike.
A nurse, who works at the Whittington Hospital in north London, described patients being left in corridors, some spending up to three hours in ambulances because of a lack of beds and one being left without oxygen when their cylinder ran out.
The nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “I’m worried about patient safety because if these little things are happening now when we’re short and it’s busy, it’s only going to get worse.
“I don’t know what else will happen – it worries me.”
And an intensive care doctor warned maintaining care for 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."
Their stark warnings come as the number of hospital admissions reach record levels in many area in England,including London, the South West and the Midlands, with admissions rising above the levels seen during the first wave.
Dr Rafik Bedair warns of pressures facing NHS staff
Infections continue to rise as well. The past four days have seen more than 50,000 new cases a day, which brings the total number of cases in the UK to 2,542,065.
Yesterday, another 2,434 people have been admitted to hospital and 613 people have died.
“It’s not having enough nurses to care for patients, patient safety is being affected,” the nurse said.
“Some are in corridors, being looked after in makeshift areas, makeshift wards have been created for Covid patients, and ICUs are running out of space.
“Staff have got low morale – we haven’t even gotten over the first wave physically, emotionally and mentally, and now we’re having to deal with this second wave.”
The nurse described finding one Covid patient with “several health conditions” who had been left on an oxygen cylinder after it had run out.
They said: “He thought he was receiving oxygen but the whole cylinder had run out.
“Because of staff shortages and because the nurses are tired, no one had checked on him."
“He was in a room with an oxygen port on the wall but he was left on a cylinder and no one had gone back to check on him.”
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."
Whittington Hospital has been contacted for comment.