Portsmouth hospital bosses plead for people the follow the rules to stop spread of Covid-19

HOSPITAL bosses are pleading for people to carry on sticking to the rules over concerns of numbers not falling as quick as other areas.

By Millie Salkeld
Saturday, 30th January 2021, 7:00 am

Staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital are seeing a ‘slow reduction’ in the numbers of coronavirus patients that they are looking but numbers of the most sick patients are yet to drop.

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust medical director John Knighton, who has worked in the NHS for 30 years, said he had never before seen hospital pressures like the second wave of the pandemic which has seen nearly twice the number of Covid-19 patients than first wave peak.

Dr Knighton told The News: ‘We have seen the beginnings of a decrease of patients with Covid-19 across the whole hospital. Two weeks ago we were running with just over 50 per cent of our entire general bed base filled with patients with Covid and that has come down to around 40 per cent.

QA hospital and medical director John Knighton Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘In the higher care areas those numbers haven't come down significantly yet and we are still admitting patients every day. I hope that we will start to see a reduction in the sicker patients but we know that if that happens even in the best possible scenario it will be some time before our intensive care load will be anything like it would normally be at this time of year.

‘This is nothing like any winter that we have seen before. I have worked in the NHS for more than 30 years and as a consultant in Portsmouth for 20 years. We have had some really difficult flu years and some years that have stretched the intensive care unit but this is orders of magnitude different to that and orders of magnitude different even to the first wave.’

The numbers of coronavirus patients being cared for at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital, was 425 as of 8am on Tuesday down from 458 on the same day the previous week and 539 on January 11.

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Mark Cubbon Picture: Habibur Rahman

Figures also show that 310 new Covid patients were admitted to hospital in the week to January 24, which was up from 291 in the previous seven days.

In Portsmouth there has been a total of 12,183 with an infection rate for duration of pandemic of 5,669 per 100,000 people.

PHU chief executive Mark Cubbon said: ‘I think we need to be optimistic and that is not to play down the pressures that we have because what we have seen particularly around the end of December our numbers started to go up very quickly.

‘What we are seeing now is a slow reduction in the number of patients in hospital but what we are seeing, that is slightly concerning, is that the rate of transmission in our community is not coming down as quickly in some other areas.

‘There is a real connection to behaviour in our community and we all have an opportunity to break the transmission but I think those that know and have experienced it, whether that is those looking after the sickest patients, those that have lost family members or been affected because they are living with the aftermath of Covid, they are the ones who tell you first hand about the impact.’

Now more than 100,000 people have died due to Covid-19, including Gosport mother Emma Dickinson. Her mother Sue Foulsham is among those pleading with everyone stick to the lockdown rules.

Mr Cubbon added: ‘Until that prevalence comes down we will continue to see patients and the knock on consequences of that is the pressure continues on the site, pressure continues for those that work here and will also slow down the work we need to do for the other groups of patients that is not urgent but nonetheless patients need access to those services at some point and we want to get to that point as soon as possible.’

It has been a year since the trust got its first ever ‘Good’ CQC rating, with critical care receiving an outstanding rating, and services have faced having to adapt to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Knighton said: ‘I think one of the reasons we have been able to manage demand in Portsmouth for the most sick patients as well as we have is because of the strength of that team.

‘We would normally run with a maximum of 19 patients needing the highest level of ventilator and organ support, in the pandemic we have been looking up to more than 60 which is more than three times our normal capacity but we don’t have any more dedicated ICU nurses or physiotherapists or consultants so we have managed that by bringing in support from a wide range of other staff.

‘We learnt a lot through the first wave of the pandemic and we adapted ready for what we knew would be a second wave. It means that sense of being one team and working together has worked better.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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