Second wave hitting West Midland hospitals harder than start of pandemic, figures confirm –

Changing coronavirus infection rates across the region
Changing coronavirus infection rates across the region

It comes after hospital chiefs paid tribute to their staff who are working “tirelessly to make sure everyone gets the best possible care in these challenging circumstances”.

Rates of infection across the region are beginning to fall but West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has urged people not to let up in the fight against the virus.

The West Midlands is now showing lower rates of infection than before lockdown was implemented – and in areas such as Wolverhampton the drop has been particularly significant (see chart above).

However hospitals across the region are continuing to deal with unprecedented numbers of critically ill patients.

NHS England data showed 363 people were being treated for coronavirus at at the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust in the latest figures available – a rise of 70 per cent compared to 214 in April last year.

The University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust is caring for more than double the patients than in the first wave’s peak – with 348 being treated by 8am on January 12.

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust saw a rise of 15 per cent compared to April – with 304 people now being cared for.

While the latest data available shows the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust is caring for 187 Covid patients – a rise of nine per cent – and the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust is caring for 194 patients – a rise of three per cent.

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Mr Street said: “Whilst it is encouraging that rates of infection across the Black Country are beginning to drop off, our relative position in the country has actually declined with both Sandwell and Wolverhampton now in the top 20 worst areas for infection rates. Clearly this is having an immense impact on hospitals, as is the fact that the rate of infection among the over-60s remains dangerously high.

“The speedy rollout of the vaccine is very encouraging news, but that is not a short-term fix for the pressure our hospitals are under. With light at the end of the tunnel because of the vaccine, now is not the time to let up.”

A spokesman on behalf of the Black Country NHS trusts said: “Over the past week the trusts within the Black Country have been extremely busy as we continue to treat high numbers of Covid positive patients both in critical care and throughout our hospital wards.

“We would like to pay tribute to our staff who continue to work tirelessly to make sure everyone gets the best possible care in these challenging circumstances.”

John Oxtoby, UHNM medical director, added: “UHNM has seen a significant increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 being cared for in its hospitals and in its intensive care during the last two weeks.

“This is a situation which is constantly under review and we are putting plans in place in order to prepare for another potential surge in patients.”

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