London hospitals see record Covid patient numbers as Boris Johnson issues fresh stay home warning – Evening Standard

One leading consultant called the crisis in the capital’s hospitals “almost apocalyptic” and a senior health chief said some intensive care units were “already overwhelmed”.

Latest NHS England figures showed 7,917 patients with the virus in the capital’s hospitals yesterday morning — almost 3,000 more than at the peak of the first wave.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, the Prime Minister said: “With Covid cases stubbornly high and an alarming number of people still in hospitals across London we need everyone to continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.” He urged: “I know how tough this is, but the stakes are too high this time.”  

More than 1,000 Londoners a week are dying with Covid, taking the total last night to 11,209.

Dr Alison Pittard, Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, told the Standard: “Many hospitals and intensive care units around the country, including in London, are already overwhelmed, working beyond normal baseline numbers and diluting staffing ratios in order to care for the patients who would benefit from intensive care.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan said NHS staff were under “unimaginable pressure”. On a day that the  pressures reached new peaks:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock went into self-isolation after being alerted by the NHS Covid-19 app. In a tweet he said he will work from home until Sunday, adding: “We all have a part to play in getting this virus under control”.
  • Three London hospitals had half or more beds occupied by Covid patients, with three other major trusts close to 50 per cent.
  • The London Nightingale was told to take more patients after reportedly treating only 12.
  • The number of patients on mechanical ventilators in London hospitals reached a record of 1,200.
  • Doctors at the capital’s biggest hospital said there were times they ran out of A&E beds due to receiving a Covid patient every hour.
  • More than 106,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now occurred in the UK, new figures show.  
  • One in eight people in England have had coronavirus, revealed official statistics made using antibody tests. A study last week estimated that the number was as high as one in three in London.
  • Britain’s most senior police officer has said people should shop their neighbours if they are repeatedly breaking Covid-19 rules. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said a “small minority” were still failing to follow the regulations. She told LBC: “What I do think is, if you do have concerns that somebody is persistently not complying with the restrictions, with the regulations, then, yeah, you should talk to us.”

The Prime Minister urged Londoners to accept the vaccine without delay when their turn comes up. He told the Standard: “Because we now know that we have a route out of this pandemic, and while there will be challenges in the weeks and months ahead, we’re making great strides in our plan to vaccinate those most at risk from Covid by the middle of next month.

“Just this week we’ve begun offering vaccinations to millions more people and I’d urge everyone over 70, as well as those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, to book a vaccination as soon as you can: to protect yourself, to protect your friends and family, and to protect the NHS.” Dr Pittard said some staff were “almost on their knees, having been going through this non-stop for months, and months and months”.

The latest NHS figures showed that hopes of a fall in daily admissions towards the end of last week came to an end on Saturday when the numbers increased by 88 to 758.

Because many patients are younger than in the first wave, and medical techniques have improved, inpatients are staying longer in hospital — leading to the record numbers.  

The number of Covid inpatients in London increased by 210 in the last 24-hour period and has now been above 7,000 for 13 successive days.

At the Royal London, the capital’s biggest hospital, in Whitechapel, 12 of its floors have Covid patients — 10 of them with people so sick that they require a ventilator.

In harrowing footage broadcast by the BBC last night, Martin Freeborn, whose 64-year-old wife Helen died with Covid, said only 30 minutes after she passed away: “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. This really is horrible. Please wake up and please be over-careful.”

Staff nurse Carleen Kelly said she “felt broken” by the pandemic, saying the latest wave was “scarier and bigger” than the first. “I never thought it would be possible to have this many intensive care patients.”

Martin Griffiths, a trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, said the force of the pandemic was “almost apocalyptic”. He said the heart-breaking testimony from Mr Freeborn and his three adult daughters “spoke of a deeper truth than mere numbers can’t capture”.

Mr Khan today pleaded with Londoners to stay at home and follow the lockdown rules. “Don’t put the NHS under more strain,” he said. “Don’t risk your life, or the lives of other Londoners.”

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