South West hospitals hit grim milestone amid warning 'worst yet to come'

Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

As the Chief Medical Officer warns the next few weeks will be the worst of the pandemic, the South West continues to see increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients in our hospital and over the weekend another concerning record was broken; now there are more patients on ventilators in the West Country's hospitals than at any other point during the pandemic.

In the middle of April, during the peak of the first wave, the highest number of Covid-19 patients at any one point on ventilators was 126, on Sunday that record was passed with 144 patients on ventilators. 

Our hospitals are under more pressure now than ever before, the total number of coronavirus patients in our hospitals, as of last night, is 1,792.

That compares to a peak in the first wave of 1,080, in fact our hospitals have had more patients than the first wave record since the 21 December.

I've spoken to some hospital managers who say they will do whatever needs to be done to make sure everyone is treated, however they warn some non-urgent surgery could be cancelled to ensure care can be provided to the most critically ill.

During the first wave many operations and appointments were cancelled, but this time round bosses are trying to cancel as few appointments as possible. 

The fear among health bosses and politicians alike is that the infection numbers are continuing to rise - in the South West last week saw more positive tests in the region than at any other time during the pandemic.

More infections will turn into more people in our hospitals in the next fortnight and sadly it will lead to more covid related deaths too.

The hope is lockdown restrictions will start to bring the numbers of infections down in the next week or so.

However, we will see increasing reminders about complying to the lockdown regulations, especially in indoor settings.

People are moving around a lot more during this lockdown compared to the one last March, in part that is because some businesses are allowed to stay open (for example, construction sites, nurseries and garden centres).

Should Ministers feel they have to bring in more restrictions to bring infections down then there are very few levers left to pull to further restrict our lives. 

At the same time as all of this is going on then the vaccine rollout continues, but the warning today from the NHS is that it'll take a long time before the impact of vaccinations helps to relieve the pressure on our hospitals.  

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