Patient deaths 'the awful truth' behind freeing up critical care beds, says Health Minister

The Health Minister says there is 'no harm-free route' through this crisis Credit: PA

The Health Minister Vaughan Gething said it is likely that the coronavirus situation in Wales will worsen before it improves.

Mr Gething said there has been a 24% increase of Covid-related critical care since 21st December.

"Critical care is perhaps under the greatest pressure and has seen Covid-related critical care increase to 126. This rate of growth is inevitably linked to the higher community prevalence of recent weeks and is a significant concern within our overall hospital capacity, and this is likely to increase over the next two weeks."

"Current mortality rates for Covid patients in critical care, the figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, show that in Wales nearly 40% of people admitted since 1 September have passed away. That is not critical care failing—it is the reality of the number of infections that we have seen and are continuing to see."

Watch Vaughan Gething give a coronavirus update for Wales:

The Health Minister said we have seen some levelling off in the all-Wales figures today, which are still very high and there has been continued growth in north Wales case numbers. He said this is potentially because of the new more infectious strain of the virus.

Mr Gething added: "Whilst there are physical beds available, staff absence and the nature of the hospital environment which makes it difficult to safely distance Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients means that usable capacity is limited, and varies on a daily basis...

"The coming weeks will be an extraordinary challenge for our health and social care services. We would not normally face a winter with the level of staff shortages in health and social care that we do face right across Wales. And yet, still there are well-placed loud and angry voices who deny the problem, who claim that the cure cannot be worse than the virus. Let me remind you that this is a virus to which more than 3,000 of our people have already lost their lives; more will do so. Many will recover but it will not be easy or quick for every person that does. There is no harm-free route through this crisis, and I do not accept that the cure is worse than the virus."

Health boards have been asking people to stay at home to save lives:

Despite this stark message, the Health Minister said there is hope. He said that "well over 30,000" people in Wales have now had the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In addition, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be rolled out across Wales from Monday. Mr Gething said: "It will arrive in small quantities initially, with more of our population-based allocation arriving each week."