Worst Covid ‘black zones’ as hospitals fill up and cases ‘move further north’


England’s worst-hit NHS trust saw the number of Covid patients rocket by 277% in a month as Omicron ripped through the UK, latest NHS figures show, as 12 hospitals declare a critical incident

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England’s worst-hit NHS trust saw the number of Covid patients rocket by 277% in a month as Omicron ripped through the UK.

Latest figures reveal that all of the 20 worst-affected trusts saw a rise in patients being treated for the virus in the month to December 28.

It comes as new data shows hotspots have emerged in the North West, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Midlands after the Omicron strain first took hold in London.

The North West currently has the highest infection rate in England, followed by London and the East of England.

Yesterday the Department of Health said 9,958 people had been admitted to hospital in the previous week – up 50% from the week before.

NHS England data shows how individual trusts have been hit, with 12 hospitals declaring critical incidents due to rising patient numbers and huge levels of staff absence.

Latest Department of Health figures show infections have soared in the North West, Wales and Northern Ireland
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coronavirus.data.gov.uk)

Latest Department of Health figures show infections have soared in the North West, Wales and Northern Ireland
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Image:

coronavirus.data.gov.uk)

Last week King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was treating the largest number of patients with Covid-19 in England, with 302 inpatients – up from 80 a month earlier.

Meanwhile, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust was treating 15 times as many people with the virus on December 28 as it was a month earlier.

The figures do not provide a breakdown showing whether Covid was the primary reason for admission, as NHS bosses say many cases are detected when people seek treatment for other illnesses.

NHS North West regional medical director Dr David Levy told the BBC hospitals were under pressure across the entire region due to the volume of Covid patients and isolating staff, adding frontline workers were under “fairly intense pressure at the moment”.

Two days before Christmas London had the highest infection rate in the UK

England’s 20 NHS trusts with the highest number of patients on December 28

  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – 302, up from 80 a month earlier
  • Bart’s Health NHS Trust – 241, up from 111 a month earlier
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – 235, up from 180 a month earlier
  • Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust – 210, up from 111 a month earlier
  • Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust – 197, up from 98 a month earlier
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 178, up from 117 a month earlier
  • Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust – 173, up from 52 a month earlier
  • St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 171, up from 32 a month earlier
  • Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust – 169, up from 86 a month earlier
  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust – 161, up from 73 a month earlier
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – 158, up from 80 a month earlier
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 158, up from 107 a month earlier
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust – 154, up from 91 a month earlier
  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – 151, up from 10 a month earlier
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – 147, up from 65 a month earlier
  • London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust – 142, up from 28 a month earlier
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust – 141, up from 77 a month earlier
  • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust – 140, up from 54 a month earlier
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 123, up from 110 a month earlier
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust – 116, up from 42 a month earlier

The Omicron variant became dominant first in London, with infections soaring in the three weeks before Christmas.

New maps show how this has since spread across the UK.

A month ago the picture was very different before Omicron ripped through the UK

Cases and infection rates in regions of England

According to the latest Department of Health data the North West, where nearly 150,000 people have tested positive in the past week, has the highest infection rate now.

All regions in the country are recording a rate of more than 1,000 cases per 100,000, with the South West currently reporting the lowest.

The confirmed cases and infection rates are currently:

  • North West – 148,825 cases in seven days, 2,020 per 100,000 people
  • London – 156,433 cases in seven days, 1,737.7 per 100,000 people
  • East of England – 101,425 cases in seven days, 1,617.8 per 100,000 people
  • East Midlands – 77,496 cases in seven days, 1,592.7 per 100,000 people
  • Yorkshire and the Humber – 84,990 cases in seven days, 1,537.9 per 100,000 people
  • North East – 40,399 cases in seven days, 1,507 per 100,000 people
  • West Midlands – 86,789 cases in seven days, 1,455.7 per 100,000 people
  • South East – 131,349 cases in seven days, 1,425 per 100,000 people
  • South West – 64,024 cases in seven days, 1,131.3 per 100,000 people

The number of patients in hotspots has risen swiftly in recent weeks
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Getty Images)

Hospitals which have declared critical incidents

Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust are among the hospital trusts that have signalled they may be unable to deliver vital care to patients due to staff shortages.

Meanwhile, 17 hospitals in Greater Manchester have paused non-urgent surgery and appointments, although a critical incident has not yet been declared at the sites.

It comes after 15% of Greater Manchester hospital staff fell sick with Covid or had to self-isolate, far higher than the usual staff absence figure of 5% over winter.

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital have also taken steps to protect staff and patients by banning visitors to both sites.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said hospitals are able to get assistance from nearby hospitals and other NHS trusts after declaring critical incidents.

He added: “It is a sensible, planned thing to do to ensure that trust can carry on providing the services that it needs to provide, particularly the critical and essential services.”

The 11 hospitals affected by ‘critical incidents’ amid covid crisis

Morecambe Bay NHS Trust

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • The Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wiltshire

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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