Majority of Covid patients in major intensive care unit unvaccinated says doctor

The majority of Covid-19 patients in one of Wales' busiest intensive care units are unvaccinated, a top doctor has said.Dr David Hepburn from The Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran has said several patients had also died in the last week with the virus.

He said none of those who had passed away had any significant underlying health conditions, and pre-pandemic would likely have lived for decades longer.

Infection rates in Wales are high with over 2,000 cases per 100,000. Alert Level Two restrictions still remain in place as Omicron sweeps across the country.

Last week, the First Minister announced that the number of Covid patients in Welsh hospitals is at its highest since last March.

Mark Drakeford also said the peak of the current wave was still at least another ten to 14 days away.

Mark Drakeford announced on Friday that Wales will remain at Alert Level Two.

On his Twitter feed, Dr Hepburn also says that staff shortages caused by people isolating is putting more strain on the hospital.

"Large numbers of Covid patients being admitted and staff shortages are significantly affecting our ability to do routine operations, outpatients, and diagnostics which will lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment as well as worsen outcomes.

"Waiting lists are longer than ever and the knock-on effect will be significant."

Last week Mr Drakeford also admitted that "Omicron is putting significant pressure on the NHS at the busiest time of the year - not just from rising hospital admissions but through staff absences.

"Our NHS workforce, which has worked so hard throughout the pandemic, is not immune to coronavirus.

"The latest figures suggest staff absences from illness and isolation across the NHS is 8.3% but it is as high as 16.5% in some NHS organisations."

Staff shortages puts a strain on the NHS.

Dr Hepburn is encouraging people to get vaccinated and boosted saying it "significantly reduces the risk of needing hospitalisation or ITU and eases the pressure on non-Covid work"."Even if your risk is low of getting seriously unwell, vaccination makes a huge difference to those around you who are awaiting treatment for other conditions. We all need to do what we can to help our neighbours and friends – this is reason enough in my opinion," he added.

However the intensive care doctor has said that vaccination is becoming a "hugely divisive issue" polarising two camps."All we can do is emphasise that vaccination is generally safe (seven billion doses worldwide) and protects the community, bringing us closer to controlling the outbreak. You only have to look at the difference between wave one and now in terms of serious illness."But we need to be sympathetic towards those who are hesitant as there are many cultural, social, and psychological reasons for this."

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