SOMEONE is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus "every thirty seconds," a top NHS boss said today.
NHS England Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens refused to "sugar coat" the "staggering" figures, which could see care rationed across the country.
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Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning, Sir Simon warned both hospitals and staff are under "extreme pressure".
"The facts are very clear and I'm not going to sugar-coat them," he said.
"Hospitals are under extreme pressure and staff are under extreme pressure."
Staggeringly, every thirty seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.
Dishing out the shocking figures which have led to 15,000 hospital in-patients across England since Christmas Day, he said: "Staggeringly, every thirty seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus."
The figures since Christmas equate to filling 30 hospitals full of Covid patients, the NHS boss said.
It comes as hospitals have been ordered to open hundreds of extra intensive care unit (ICU) beds and hit “maximum surge capacity” by 8am tomorrow.
And the pressure on resources has led to fears that care for the sickest coronavirus patients may have to be rationed, The Times reports.
NHS hospital trust chief executives in the Midlands have been told that “colleagues in the northeast will make an increased amount of their ACC [adult critical care] capacity available to us”, according to a leaked letter.
At the same time, more than half of all hospital trusts have cancelled operations.
Some patients whose surgery was postponed last spring may be forced to wait until 2022 – along with cancer patients and those with heart and respiratory problems.
The leaked letter reportedly says: “We cannot allow clinicians to be put in a position where they may have to make difficult triage decisions when there is a possibility of obtaining care in another region.”
Sir Simon Stevens said this morning NHS staff were going "flat out" and thatratios for nurse to ICU patients in London currently sat at 1-1, 1-2 and 1-3 depending.
Separate leaked figures reveal that last Monday 156 hospital critical care units were no longer able to provide “safe” one-to-one nursing care.
And intensive care doctors have already expressed concern about the prospect of having to “choose between patients”.
In a letter to Matt Hancock, health bodies called for a change to the law to ensure medical workers do not feel “vulnerable to the risk of prosecution for unlawful killing” when treating Covid patients “in circumstances beyond their control”.
If it comes to it, they may be required to work within the framework of'critcon levels', which go up to critcon 4.
The highest critcon level will come into place in an emergency where ICU treatment may have to be rationed because no beds are available elsewhere.
The Intensive Care Society said the aim was that no hospital reached critcon 4 until all possible mutual aid had been exhausted, and every other ICU in the country was at critcon 3, where they are at maximum physical capacity, including all expansion areas in use.
It comes after a further 1,295 people died with Covid in the UK yesterday – amid warnings the peak of the second wave hasn't yet been reached.
Another 41,346 more cases were recorded – meaning 3,357,365 people have now tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic took hold.
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