Gloucestershire’s Covid hospital admissions rise to 186

gloucestershires covid hospital admissions rise to 186 - Gloucestershire's Covid hospital admissions rise to 186

Gloucestershire’s two main hospitals and their staff are under “considerable pressure” as the number of people fighting covid within them has risen to 186, writes Leigh Boobyer.

The figure is the highest on record since the pandemic began in March, and the first wave saw 148 people admitted to Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals with Covid-19 at its peak April.

This means there are now 25 per cent more people in the two hospitals with the coronavirus than in the peak of the first week, as at this morning (December 14), and the local NHS also says there are now “considerably higher levels” of non-covid activity.

Coronavirus hospital admissions is one of the five criteria the Government will look at when it announces its first review of the regional tiered system this Wednesday.

The system was introduced on December 2 at the end of the national four-week lockdown, and dictates which set of rules an area has to abide by.

As it stands Gloucestershire falls in ‘high alert’ Tier 2, but coronavirus cases and hospital admissions are rising locally.

The news comes as the NHS is urging people to approach Christmas, when rules will be relaxed for five days, with “great caution” as health officials fear a rise in hospital admissions and a potential third wave in January – the NHS’s most challenging month.

One NHS nurse said: “If we let our guards down now it could be very costly in the New Year.”

Between Wednesday December 23 and Sunday 27, people across the UK will be able to form “bubbles” of three households and can mix indoors and stay overnight.

There will be no limit to the number of people in a household joining a bubble, according to the Government’s plans.

‘Take every possible precaution’

Now Deborah Lee, the chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the hospitals have seen “rapidly rising numbers” of covid-19 patients over the last few weeks.

Since the start of the second lockdown on November 5, the number of people with covid-19 in the two main hospitals rose from 38 (November 5), to 98 (November 11), to 132 (November 18), to 133 (December 2 when lockdown was lifted) to 166 (December 9) to 186 (December 14).

In that time, the number of people needing critical care due to coronavirus was fewer than the peak of the first wave.

As of December 14 there were 12 patients in critical care – 21 fewer than in mid-April.

Ms Lee is among local NHS leaders calling on people to “take every possible precaution” and to “think really carefully about their Christmas plans”.

She has previously said there is a clear link between the numbers of people catching coronavirus within the community, followed by hospitalisations and then critical care demand.

Ms Lee said: “Over the last few weeks we have continued to see rapidly rising numbers of Covid-19 positive patients, and presently are caring for 186 people in our hospitals.

“This number of Covid patients is 25 per cent  higher than at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic and this increase, alongside considerably higher levels of non-COVID activity, than we had in the first wave is putting both of our hospitals and staff under considerable pressure.

“We are urging local people to continue to take every possible precaution to help reduce community transmission and to also think really carefully about their Christmas plans.

“We know this is an important time for everyone but we are asking people in Gloucestershire to do everything they can to avoid a third considerable peak in Covid-19 in mid to late January.

“This includes to asking them to limit their contact with people outside their immediate family and bubble, for those who choose to meet to be extremely vigilant with respect to hands, face and space and to remember the thousands of NHS staff who have worked unrelentingly for the last ten months, will be working throughout the festive period and have a difficult winter ahead.

“We have prepared extremely well over the last few months and continue to manage inordinate pressures extremely well but we are seeking the continued, phenomenal support of all our communities which we have received this year, to ensure that the hospital does not become overwhelmed.

“Our commitment remains to be here to care for all, not just those who are unfortunate enough to succumb to covid.”

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, whose constituency holds Cheltenham General Hospital, said on Facebook: “Morning everyone. Sobering data that I feel duty-bound to pass on. As at this morning there were 186 Covid-19 positive patients in Gloucestershire hospitals. That is around *25 per cent higher* than the spring peak.

“If we don’t all take great care, now and over Christmas, January will be very difficult for Gloucestershire’s NHS and all the staff who work in it.”

What does the latest coronavirus data say?

In the Government’s daily coronavirus positive test figures, there were another 149 cases being recording in Gloucestershire as of December 13.

The county’s highest increase was in Gloucester, which saw its total rise by 58, followed by 24 in Stroud, and there were no new Gloucestershire deaths were reported in Sunday’s figures.

The daily rise in cases for each part of the county is recorded below, with the total figure during the pandemic in brackets:

Cheltenham: +14 (1,732)

Cotswold: +18 (1,048)

Forest of Dean: +18 (1,033)

Gloucester: +58 (2,653)

Stroud: +24 (1,622)

Tewkesbury: +17 (1,159).

‘Risk of spreading coronavirus with indoor family gatherings remain high’

Local health and care leaders are asking people to “think carefully” about their Christmas plans, the risks to themselves and their families.

Dr Andy Seymour, a Gloucestershire GP, said “the risk in spreading the virus remains high, particularly with family gatherings indoors where it will be incredibly difficult to maintain social distancing”.

Dr Seymour, who is also the clinical chairman at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and we don’t want to tell people not to celebrate, but the risk in spreading the virus remains high, particularly with family gatherings indoors where it will be incredibly difficult to maintain social distancing.

“We are asking people to think very carefully about their whole family andthe need to keep them safe, particularly those who are clinically vulnerable.

“If you do choose to form a bubble, try to limit your contact with other people in the time left before Christmas, to reduce your risk of catching and spreading the virus.”

Sarah Scott, Gloucestershire’s director of public health, said: “We have all made tremendous sacrifices this year, but I would urge people to think about their own personal circumstances and what they think is an acceptable risk for themselves, their friends and family.

“The availability of a Covid-19 vaccine is a great step forward, but it does not mean we can let our guards down. We must continue to do everything we can to prevent case numbers from climbing and protecting those who are most vulnerable to the virus.”

Professor Steve Hams, chief nurse at the hospitals trust, said: “We are concerned that the spread of the virus will quickly gather pace as soon as the restrictions are relaxed, even for just a few days, so if we let our guards down now it could be very costly in the New Year.

“The NHS is under a great amount of pressure at the moment, with a rising number of admissions into our hospitals, which could rise still further in January if we don’t continue to do everything we can to control the spread of the virus.

“So please, think carefully about your plans and exercise a huge amount of caution for the sake of your friends and family, for our communities and for Gloucestershire, so that hopefully we can all celebrate together again in 2021.”

John Trevains, director of nursing at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know that Christmas can be one of the hardest times of the year, especially for those who live on their own.

“This isn’t about scaring people, or telling people to spend Christmas alone – this is about asking people to think really carefully, to plan for what their Christmas looks like in terms of keeping contacts to a minimum, exercising social distancing and good hand hygiene and more specifically considering the impact of their actions on vulnerable people like older relatives.”

ENDS

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