THE latest COVID-19 projections for Poole and Bournemouth Hospitals in the next week are “frightening”.
That’s the stark assessment of medical director for medicine across the two University Hospitals Dorset sites, Dr Tristan Richardson.
And he says: “It simply doesn’t feel as though there’s a lockdown out there.”
UHD’s figures calculated on Friday project say up to 600 beds Covid beds could be needed in the next two weeks, more than half of all beds at the two sites.
By the middle of Sunday evening, there were 319 Covid patients being treated as pressure on the hospitals grows by the hour. It’s quadruple the number at Christmas.
As reported on Saturday, the south west now has the highest R rate in the country.
And the peak of infections is still days away, expected around January 20.
Dr Tristan Richardson, a consultant endocrinologist told the Echo: “This is so frightening. We are already under incredible pressure. We believe between 450-600 beds could be needed.
“Not only are more Covid cases coming in, we are silting up because we can’t get patients out again.
“Today we have 100 medically fit mainly elderly patients in Bournemouth who don’t need a hospital bed but we cannot get them back to their care or nursing home and that is adding to the pressure.”
Around 90 per cent of Covid patients are being dealt with on ordinary wards, not in emergency or critical care departments.
Dr Richardson warned of the consequences of people ignoring the stay at home and don’t mix rules.
“I wish we could bring members of the public and some of our MPs onto our ward rounds so they could see the look on the faces of the breathless patients, starving of oxygen.”
He also warned the public not to take unnecessary risks and pile even more pressure on the system. “It simply doesn’t feel like a lockdown out there and that is incredibly worrying too.
“If you fall off a ladder you will not get an ambulance for some time because they are stuck outside the emergency department.
“If you have a car accident you will not get an intensive care bed quickly because they are full of Covid patients.”
Dr Richardson said some patients are coming to the hospitals from London to help ease the crisis in the capital.
“The staff coming down from there are absolutely broken. That is heartbreaking too,” he added.
“We are trying to keep as much normally activity going as possible but we have stopped orthopaedic pathways and downgraded surgical and cardiology. We are all very well aware that we not able to give our other patients better care, the care they deserve.”
He said staff were dealing with higher death rates on wards than they are used to and it is taking a huge emotional and mental toll.
“Many of the very sick Covid patients staff are talking to are aware of their predicament that we have no more to offer. That is absolutely heart wrenching as well.
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils said: “The situation over the next couple of weeks is the most serious our local NHS services has faced. The growth in cases is doubling and our hospitals are already overstretched.
‘The new variant of Covid-19 is known to be much more easily spread. Mixing with other households is mainly how this virus is spreading locally, putting people at risk. Above all else we must stay home so that we can protect the NHS and save lives.”