Liverpool's hospitals 'dangerously close' to being overwhelmed says trust director

Liverpool has one of the highest rates of coronavirus in England. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Hospitals in Liverpool and the surrounding region are ‘dangerously close to being overwhelmed’ warns the Medical Director of the city's main NHS Trust.

The Liverpool City Region currently has some of the highest areas of coronavirus infections in England and is in Tier 3 restrictions.

Dr Tristan Cope was responding to an article by the editor of the Spectator magazine, Frazer Nelson, who suggested that the debate over the current NHS situation in Liverpool was a ‘politicised’ one and who attempted to play down the severity of the crisis.In his piece, Mr Nelson wrote: “Liverpool University Hospitals had 320 Covid patients earlier this week, vs 400 at the peak last time.

"But zoom out, and the situation is very different: there are about 350 Covid patients in hospitals across the entirety of South West and South East of England, for example.

"Should Liverpool get too busy, extra capacity will be added and patients routed to other hospitals: this is how the NHS works."

The Liverpool City Region has the toughest lockdown restrictions in England. Credit: PA

Dr Cope said in a lengthy Twitter thread that the situation in Liverpool is ‘more severe’ than the North West average, with more than 25% of inpatient beds in the city now occupied by Covid patients.That is in the setting of hospitals that had more than 90% bed occupancy with non-covid patients before this surge began.He explained that Liverpool hospitals now have a bed occupancy of more than 95% with additional beds opened, but with fewer staff saying: "There isn’t capacity in other surrounding hospitals to divert general emergency admissions, at least not for more than an hour or so at a time.”Responding to Mr Nelson’s argument about capacity in hospitals on the South East or South West, Dr Cope said: "There is capacity in hospitals in other regions outside the NW, but not sure how that would help for emergency admissions? In the event of an emergency, pleasetravel to the SE or SW of England, it’s only a six-hour drive?"

Dr Cope added: “Are hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed by the current surge in covid admissions?"That depends on what you mean by overwhelmed. If you consider stopping all cancer and other urgent scheduled surgery again, having hospitals full, emergency departments full."Ambulances waiting outside emergency departments because the ED is full, and therefore ambulances not available to attend emergencies. If you consider that to be “overwhelmed”, then yes, hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed if current admission rates continue."Not there yet, but dangerously close, at least in the Liverpool City Region and other parts of Merseyside and Cheshire."Dr Cope added: "There is some good news though. If people behave responsibly, follow the social distancing rules, wear facemasks in indoor public places, wash hands and don’t mix or socialise with others outside their home or bubble, then community infection ratesand admissions will come down."