Coronavirus: NHS leak reveals second wave could gravely impact hospitals

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

A leaked NHS document has revealed the impact a second wave of coronavirus could have on hospitals in England.

According to an investigation by the Independent, a number of hospitals are treating more patients than they did during the spring.

Hospitals in the north of England were the hardest hit with more than 408 beds at the Liverpool University Hospital Trust occupied by Covid-19 patients. During the first wave of the virus the trust never saw more than 400 coronavirus patients on its wards.

There were almost 6,100 patients with the virus in hospitals across England on Thursday, with 4,670 receiving oxygen and 653 in critical care.

The data, which is routinely collected but not published by NHS England, also reveals the extent of the virus in Greater Manchester which has been at the centre of a political row in recent days.

On Thursday there were 685 patients in Manchester hospitals, 11 per cent of the total beds available, with another 100 patients suspected of having the virus. There were 62 patients being ventilated with 522 needing oxygen.

Across the Midlands as a whole there were 1,161 patients with coronavirus on wards, 6 per cent of the total number of beds available.

Intensive Care Society president Ganesh Suntharalingam said: “Going into surge capacity is not trivial – it is at the expense of staff in terms of stress and PTSD and possibly of patient outcome, so flexing staffing ratios is justified only as a crisis response.

“Alternative responses should be considered first, which may include temporarily transferring other work such as planned care to other hospitals or even other parts of the UK. This may not sit well with local targets or inter-organisational politics, but needs to be part of the debate.”

Meanwhile Scientific advisers have been warned that the coronavirus is mutating and could become more infectious, according to a SAGE report.

The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) said the UK did not have the capability to research these mutations in depth and whether they would be harmful.

Data shows the coronavirus' genome is changing significantly and the strains found in the UK 'show considerable diversity'.

In a separate document, data reveals hospitalised Covid-19 patients are dying quicker than they were the first time around.

Up until August 1, patients were dying an average of 13 days after symptoms such as a cough, high temperature or loss of smell and taste started.

But since then, the period has dropped to just seven days on average – 7.5 in men and six days in women.

Another document shows how scientists have found that London has so far avoided a 'second wave' on the scale of those happening in other major cities in England, such as Liverpool and Manchester.

Experts speculate this is because more of the capital's population has some form of immunity to the coronavirus after having it already, compared to the North West, where the infection rate was slower.