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Covid: NHS ‘stretched like never before’ as millions facing delayed urgent surgeries

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Health leaders issued the grave warning, as over 20 hospitals in England declare critical incidents due to staff shortages. The increasing number of staff forced to isolate due to Covid has been putting unnecessary additional pressure on the NHS which has already been burdened with the spike in coronavirus cases.

Dr Stephen Webb, president of the Intensive Care Society, has warned the staff shortages caused by the onslaught of Covd cases “restricts our ability to care for other patients”.

He told the Independent: “We are hearing from our members that virtually all intensive care units (ICUs) are under strain primarily because of staffing constraints and this is resulting in many having to limit access for patients having urgent operations.

“Patients who may need an urgent procedure – say a cardiology procedure – that patient will undoubtedly wait for longer in hospital until a spot becomes available for them to be transferred to.

“That urgent treatment will be restricted because of staffing restrictions, and we have heard that is happening within intensive care units because ICUs have less staff to open beds.

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“Those staffing shortages are not just in ICU.”

On Wednesday Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, warned the health service was “stretched like never before”.

He tweeted to his 37 thousand followers: “NHS stretched like never before. London is still showing lower hospitalisation growth.

“But growing concerns that the assumption the rest of the country will match the London pattern may be wrong.

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“Also must recognise the impact of pressure on patients & staff.”

On Wednesday, the UK recorded a further 194,747 new daily infections and another 334 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, however, some of the deaths included in the number which contribute to a backlog of hospital deaths reported overnight by NHS England covering from January 1 to January 4.

The worrying warning from health experts comes as Brois Johnson, 57, confirmed no further Covid curbs are set to be implemented despite the surging cases and crippling staff shortages.

The Prime Minister has said he hopes England can “ride out” the current coronavirus wave without new restrictions, but he did acknowledge parts of the NHS would feel “temporarily overwhelmed”.


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