Almost 70 covid patients are in our hospitals as the NHS continues to deal with increasing pressure – with one Burton patient fighting for their life in intensive care.
Health services are facing more patients and staff absences than usual due to the virus – and a daunting backlog of appointments caused by the pandemic in the last 18 months.
During the last peak of the virus in January, many services were paused to free up covid beds, but now all services are fully open, providing a tough task for workers.
And as of Friday, September 17 – the date of the latest figures available – there were 69 covid patients in University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (UHDB) NHS Foundation Trust hospitals.
Of these, 12 were in Queen’s Hospital, Burton, 36 were in Royal Derby Hospital and 21 were in Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Ten were in intensive care – six in Royal Derby, three in Chesterfield Royal and one in Queen’s. In the past week, the whole Derbyshire health system – which includes Burton – was moved into the highest level of alert.
Known as Opel 4, it is extremely uncommon outside winter. Opel 4 means “pressure in the local health and social care system continues to escalate leaving organisations unable to deliver comprehensive care. There is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised”.
It also includes incidents of “unexpected reduced staffing levels” causing “increased pressure on patient flow at a level that compromises service provision and patient safety”.
Health officials say that some operations are having to be cancelled as a result of the sustained pressure.
They have advised patients to ensure that they use the correct health service when they need care, including their GP, the 111 service, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres – instead of A&E, which is reserved for life-threatening situations.
A spokesperson for Chesterfield Royal Hospital said: “Covid-19 is still out there, a risk to health and we are treating a number of patients with the virus, some of whom are critically ill.
“That’s why it is extremely important that any visitors to the hospital follow our safety guidelines by wearing a face covering, sanitising hands, socially distancing and respecting all of our staff who are doing an incredible job under challenging circumstances.
“To help deal with this and an increasing demand on our services, we are also asking people to use the most appropriate NHS services for their health needs.
“GPs are open and taking appointments, pharmacies can help with advice and over the counter solutions to colds, tummy troubles and rashes and urgent treatment centres are a good alternative to our emergency department if your injury is not life-threatening.
“They can treat you for serious conditions such as minor head bumps and suspected broken bones.
“By following this simple and important advice, it will help to relieve the pressure on our services, keep our patients, staff and visitors staff and ensure we’re here for you when you need to use our services.”
Gavin Boyle, chief executive at the Royal Derby Hospital and Queen’s Hospital in Burton, said there is “unprecedented” demand on health services at the moment, with emergency departments under “significant pressure” usually not seen outside of winter.
The trust says it has now discharged more than 5,000 Covid-19 patients either back to their home or onto their next place of care.
Mr Boyle said: “The vaccine is clearly working. These are relatively low numbers given the level of community infection. Also, the patients are generally less poorly than before.
“However, the vaccine is not a guarantee and so taking sensible precautions, particularly in enclosed public spaces, is still vital. We are keeping most of our controls in place for the foreseeable future.
“With the virus still in high circulation and schools returning, we anticipate that the pandemic will be a significant factor through the autumn and winter.”
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