Hospital frontline: NHS “could be overwhelmed” by surge in Covid cases

Hospital frontline: NHS “could be overwhelmed” by surge in Covid cases

Boris johnson has told the house of commons there’s no alternative to the four-week lockdown in england which starts on thursday pubs restaurants gyms non-essential shops and places of worship will all be affected some conservative mps are strongly opposed to the measure they say it’s not justified and that it will cause immense damage to the economy there’ll be a parliamentary vote at westminster on wednesday but the prime minister warned that the nhs could be overwhelmed if no action was taken with medical staff having to choose who to treat liverpool has the highest number of covet patients

in hospital in the uk it’s currently more than four hundred and sixty our medical editor fergus walsh cameraman phil edwards and producer nicki stiazney have been given rare access to doctors and patients there this is what happens when a city loses its grip on coronavirus i’ve never experienced pressure that’s been even remotely like this i’m 58 now and i’m looking after patients that are my age or even younger than me the nhs risks failing the patients it’s there to serve it is very depressing if you’re out there if you need a new hip if you’re in pain if you can’t walk you know we can’t help you

right now the covet intensive care unit at the royal liverpool hospital is at full stretch medical teams work non-stop to help patients struggling for breath like douglas who’s 73 a former bus driver and crane operator i was doing okay and then i suddenly went downhill the sealed plastic hood he’s wearing enables oxygen to flow into his lungs under pressure it’s a bit claustrophobic but it’s doing the job that’s all that matters to me he takes a dim view of those who downplay the seriousness of coronavirus all these people that go around saying it’s a hoax and you know it’s just like a bit of a bad cold

and whatnot i mean they need to get their head straight because i have never ever ever been so ill in all my born days this is an absolute trickler staff sickness levels are three times normal critical care now depends on nurses redeployed from theaters and on others like marie who’ve come out of retirement a lot of the nhs is working on goodwill um and unfortunately people are starting to get tired and exhausted now so i don’t know how much longer a good will on its own

is going to run us along the corridor another intensive care unit this reserved for non-covered patients it’s full i’m going to be struggling to look after patients who need intensive care who do not have coronavirus in the past week around 10 critically ill patients have had to be transferred between hospitals in the region in the search for a bed we’re hanging by

a threat it’s quite tight each time a new patient comes into the emergency department we have to reshuffle so we all feel that pressure 24 7. this is winter plus plus plus people are right to say that these are pressures that occur every winter but this time it’s just a lot worse the trust isn’t helped by its aging buildings a new hospital was meant to open three years ago to replace the royal and is still not finished its other big hospital aintree university serves the north of the city in both nearly all non-urgent surgery has been cancelled the staff are needed in critical care normally at this time of day all of

these operating theaters will be busy and there will be a patient on this operating table having an operation last month nine urgent cancer operations had to be postponed some at the last minute because there were no intensive care beds available of course it’s devastating for the patient themselves if they’ve come into a hospital expecting to have a potentially life-saving cancer operation and the morning of the operation they’re told the operation can’t go ahead and that’s devastating for the patient and for the staff looking after the patient those cancellations are the exception most

cancer care is continuing as normal much of it at this new center behind the royal david has lung cancer this is his first round of chemotherapy none of his treatment has been affected by coronavirus she’s been very fast and then all my appointments non-cancelled everything’s gone to plan and there has been progress with covid19 the chances of surviving have improved ventilators are used more sparingly there are some proven drug treatments but sometimes it’s hard to

focus on the positives when the patients just keep coming what we’ve seen here in liverpool should serve as a warning to other cities other communities across the uk that unless we keep coronavirus in check then the nhs will come under extreme pressure the prime minister says a lockdown in england is needed to prevent a medical and moral disaster and those on the front line are pleading with the public to follow the rules the message is if you don’t listen to us if you don’t adhere to those restrictions you will harm your friends you will harm your family your neighbors and you might even harm yourself the nhs is about people its staff and the patients it serves it is a cradle to grave service for the beginning

and end of life for people like harry king and his wife and carer diane hello sweetie oh you look nice and comfy don’t you harry is 75 he has late stage alzheimer’s disease and kobit 19. one cruel condition compounded by another everybody loves harley quinn something hi yeah diane brings in old photos harry in his twenties in the army memories of a happy life that’s right the army that’s right he’s been a fantastic husband dad granddad all right so it’s hard very hard been married nearly 50 years in january but we’ve done a lot of things that we’ve enjoyed i think the virus has done its turn

because it’s also this was not this bad when he came in he keeps asking can you go home but we can’t because of the oxygen oh no michael come to see you soon isn’t he the couple’s two grown-up children have been to hospital to say a final farewell to their dad one family among the many thousands who face loss and grief in this time of coronavirus fergus is with me such powerful testimony in the report there fergus i think it’s fair to say there’s a growing debate about the

justification for the lockdown in england um prime minister framing that in terms of the pressure on the nhs yes now the government says unless england goes into lockdown then doctors will have to make hard choices about who to treat now that as you’ve seen is already happening in liverpool its acute hospitals by far the hardest pressed in the country for now

now across the uk there are roughly half the number of coveted inpatients in hospitals compared to the peak in april and roughly a third of the number of patients on ventilators but that doesn’t tell the full story in the first wave intensive care units were dealing almost exclusively with cobit patients people with other serious health problems simply stayed away

from hospital now that’s totally different now now we have all the usual demands on the health service plus covid and we’re going into winter not coming out of it but protecting the nhs by locking down comes with its own costs the impact on mental health on livelihoods and liberties fergus once again many thanks fergus walsh there our medical editor

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