More than a dozen hospitals have declared critical incidents due to rising admissions and staff shortages. Ambulance bosses have asked potential heart attack victims to get a taxi or a lift to A&E
Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
The NHS is being pushed to the brink as more hospitals fear patient safety is at risk due to rising admissions and staff shortages and as Omicron sweeps across the land, health chiefs warned today.
More than a dozen have now declared critical incidents and at least eight warned care could be “compromised”.
And in an alarming revelation, ambulance bosses were today asking potential heart attack victims to get a taxi or a lift to A&E as the wait for a 999 crew could be two hours.
Omicron is heading north from London and health chiefs outside the capital are braced for a wave that could swamp hospitals that have poorer resources than those in the capital.
The UK recorded another daily record of 218,724 Covid cases on Tuesday with 48 deaths in England.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Morecambe Bay NHS Trust were the latest to confirm critical incidents.
Public health director for Lancashire Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: “We are bracing ourselves for a tsunami of Omicron cases.
“We are seeing a shift from 20s and 30s and 40-year-olds being affected by Omicron to a more 60-plus age group. And that is causing us concern as well as staff absence.
“Lancashire is beginning to experience what London did at the beginning of last month and, of course, London is better resourced and well organised compared to other regions.”
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Boris Johnson today insisted there would be no further restrictions, despite the soaring numbers of Covid cases and fears for the NHS – with nine million Brits yet to have a booster.
At the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in Lancashire all 340 beds were occupied today. One staff member said: “The hospital is full. We are running at 100% capacity. It is a case of one out, one in.
“As soon as a bed is free there is someone waiting to take that bed.
“Some care homes also have problems with staff sickness. The whole system is struggling.”
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Trish Armstrong-Child added: “More people are being admitted each day than we are discharging which simply cannot be sustained.”
The Royal College of Nursing said workers on wards with only half the staff have been “reduced to tears”. One in 10 NHS staff are currently absent.
A note from North East ambulance director Mathew Beattie said call handlers were using taxis to get people to hospital.
Leaked to the Health Service Journal, it said staff should “consider asking the patient to be transported by friends or family”.
Dr Beattie added: “I am aware it will not sit comfortably but it is essential if we are to sustain a service to those who need it most.”
West Midlands Ambulance Service appealed to any crew who retired in the last two years to return and help fight the staffing crisis.
This morning, 15,044 people were in hospital in England with Covid. That is up 58% from a week earlier and is the highest number since February 18.
Boris Johnson announced 100,000 workers in key industries in England will be ordered to take Covid tests on every working day in a bid to halt Omicron’s progress.
Imperial College London modeller and Sage member Professor Neil Ferguson said cases should start to drop in the next one to three weeks.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.