'Dramatic' fall in available hospital beds due to staff sickness as health statistician warns of another lockdown

A "dramatic" fall in the number of available hospital beds is primarily a result of staff sickness, according to health statistician Jamie Jenkins.

Mr Jenkins told ITV Wales that while the number of people in intensive care at Welsh hospitals is fairly similar to three weeks ago, the number of available beds has "come down dramatically".

On Monday the Welsh health minister said there was more than 1,800 coronavirus-related patients in hospitals around Wales - the highest number ever recorded.

Mr Jenkins added that "we are probably inevitably" heading into another lockdown or firebreak but that would "just press pause" on the situation.

It comes as Wales' Chief Medical Officer told a press conference on Wednesday that Welsh Government are considering introducing even more stringent restrictions in the lead-up to, and over, Christmas.

Jamie Jenkins said we are seeing "more and more Covid patients" in Welsh hospitals although the number of new patients being admitted has not changed much.

He pointed out that it is the number of people staying in hospital, recovering from the virus, which is driving the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals up.

He added that there is an issue with staff sickness - the number of available beds has dropped because there is not enough staff to man them.

Jamie Jenkins said staff sickness is causing the fall in available hospital beds. Credit: PA Images

Mr Jenkins said coronavirus cases are "much higher than what they were before we went into the last firebreak" and numbers are expected to increase further over Christmas.

He warned that "we are probably inevitably going to be heading into another firebreak or lockdown", although he emphasised that the vaccine should be our focus now as another lockdown is "just pressing pause".

On Thursday, Public Health Wales said 2,238 new positive coronavirus cases were confirmed.

Mr Jenkins said part of the reason we are seeing such a "rapid increase" in the number of new coronavirus cases is because we are doing more testing but we have also seen a rise in the percentage of tests returning positive results.