Welsh NHS chief warns Covid-19 patient numbers could double from first wave

The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in Welsh hospitals could soon be double that seen during the first wave of the pandemic, the country’s NHS chief executive has warned.

Dr Andrew Goodall said Wales’s health system was under “immense pressure”, with critical care units operating at 140% of normal capacity. Two health boards are dedicating almost half their beds to patients with the virus.

Almost 2,800 people are in Welsh hospitals with Covid-19-related illness. That’s an increase of 4% in just a week, and the highest number on record following a surge in transmissions over the last fortnight.

More difficulties ahead

On Wednesday, Goodall told the Welsh Government’s press briefing that the sharp rise in cases, blamed on household mixing and a newer more transmissible strain of the virus, meant the NHS “faces a difficult period ahead”. He said:

If this trend continues, very soon the number of coronavirus-related patients in hospital will be twice the peak we saw during the first wave in April. More than a third of hospital beds are occupied by Covid-related patients. This varies across Wales and is close to 50% in two health boards. This has a significant impact on their ability to deliver local services.”

Goodall said 216 patients were currently occupying critical care beds, 140% of the Welsh NHS’s normal capacity.

And though there was scope to expand capacity further, he warned that doing so would mean other services are further disrupted:

Read on...

We are not able to deliver a complete range of NHS services with such high rates of coronavirus in our communities or hospitals. Our priority is to save lives and minimise harm, and to ensure that staff are supported to provide safe care. We can only respond to pandemic emergency and urgent care needs by stopping other activities.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

“Immense pressure” on NHS staff

Goodall went on to explain:

These difficult choices are being made, services and staff are stretched beyond the levels that we would normally see, even at this very challenging time of year. The four chief medical officers have raised real concerns about the risk of the NHS becoming overwhelmed in several areas of the UK.

The NHS Wales is under immense pressure, but we have made significant changes so people can continue to receive life-saving treatment. It’s essential that people get emergency care if they need it and please don’t delay getting help.

On Wednesday, Public Health Wales said there were a further 2,238 cases of coronavirus. This takes the total number of confirmed cases to 161,516. It also reported another 76 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 3,738.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us