The number of Covid-19 patients in North Yorkshire’s hospitals has surpassed the peak of the first wave as residents were warned to avoid going to A&E if possible due to the “unprecedented” demand on staff.
Health chiefs made the plea after the number of patients in beds with Covid almost doubled in just seven days.
As of yesterday, 387 coronavirus patients were in the county’s hospitals, an increase of 116 on the previous week and 85 above the peak of the first wave in April.
Amanda Bloor, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group Accountable Officer, told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum today that close to 500 staff were also off work due to either having Covid or having to isolate.
The number of staff off work from hospitals linked to the virus has increased by 20% in the last week.
Mrs Bloor told the meeting that the number of patients with Covid “really are quite stark now”.
She said: “We are in a dangerous situation. The number of Covid positive patients in our hospitals is well above the first wave, this is a place we did not want to be and that number is continuing to rise and the trend is upwards.
“The average daily increase is around 17 patients.
“What we also know is that the new strain of Covid is more transmissible than the previous strain.
“It goes without saying that our hospitals are extremely busy responding to that demand.”
The number of Covid patients in Harrogate Hospital has doubled in the last week, while in York it has increased by 50 to 121, 40 more than in April’s peak.
Scarborough Hospital currently has 35 Covid patients in its beds.
According to a blog run by South Tees Hospital Trust consultant Richard Cree, there were 171 Covid patients in James Cook, in Middlesbrough, and Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital on Monday.
Mrs Bloor said the rise in cases was forcing hospitals to redeploy staff from other departments to care for patients, in particular staff from operating theatres and high dependency wards who can provide oxygen or ventilation treatments.
She added: “I’ve spoken to hospital colleagues across North Yorkshire and York and they have a really, really simple message and that is ‘stay at home’.
“They are seeing an unprecedented level of demand and it is imperative that everyone now follows the Government guidance.
“They are also reporting to me that they are still seeing patients attending A&E so what we would say is please only attend accident and emergency departments in the event of a life-threatening or limb-threatening emergency.
“Please use NHS 111 in the first instance. I can’t stress how much the NHS is now relying on everyone to make really sensible choices and to follow the guidance to the letter.”
A total of 841 people from North Yorkshire have now died from Covid since the start of the pandemic, of those 276 have been since September with 33 deaths in the last week alone.