Nottingham hospital bosses have cancelled some cancer operations due to “pressure on intensive care units”.
The city and neighbouring boroughs had been preparing for tier 3 restrictions to come into force on Thursday, but a surge in cases means they are likely to be imposed on all of Nottinghamshire.
Nottingham University hospitals NHS trust’s medical director, Keith Girling, said the trust had taken the “extremely difficult decision” to postpone four cancer operations this week.
The head of the NHS trust, which runs Nottingham’s two main hospitals, previously said some non-urgent surgery and appointments would have to be cancelled because of a rise in Covid-19 admissions.
Number of Covid patients in hospitals could reach 25,000 within weeks
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 could more than double within weeks, the former chief scientific adviser to the government has said.
Prof Sir Mark Walport said it was “not unrealistic” to think that there could be 25,000 people in hospitals by the end of November. It comes as pressure mounts on medical staff, with more than 9,000 patients in hospitals with Covid-19.
Asked if it is not unrealistic to think of 25,000 people being in hospital by the end of November, Walport, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “It’s certainly not unrealistic to think about that.”
On hospital admissions, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “France, which has a very similar population to us, currently has about 16,000 people in hospital. It’s got 2,500 in intensive care beds compared with 852 here and roughly half the ICU beds in France are occupied. We’re seeing similar things in Spain.
“And these are in spite of these countries taking strong measures as well. So, the answer is that with our current measures – which are similar but with variations in different parts of Europe – there’s still evidence that there isn’t as much social distancing as there was when we clamped down on the first wave. And so we know that the risk is significant [and] that cases will continue to grow.”
He said that we are “still relatively early in the second wave” but added: “The number of cases is rising very significantly – it was 22,800 on 27 October and the seven-day average was just over 22,000. So there are an awful lot of cases.”
National lockdown ‘not appropriate’, says environment secretary
The environment secretary, George Eustice, who is doing the interview rounds on behalf of the government this morning, has said tiered restrictions for local areas have been introduced in a “timely way” and a national lockdown is “not appropriate”.
Speaking on Times Radio on Wednesday morning, he said: “In some ways we’ve always anticipated that there would be a second spike.
“That’s why we have been monitoring the situation closely since September, introducing, in a timely way, restrictions that are appropriate to the level of prevalence in particular parts of the country with these three different levels of intervention.
“We’re trying to intervene in things in a proportionate way across the country, but we don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national lockdown, because there’s parts of the country, like Cornwall, where the incidence of the disease is actually very low.”
Airedale hospital in West Yorkshire has become the latest hospital to say it is suspending non-urgent surgery for two weeks.
It said in a statement: “We are seeing increasing demand on the hospital which is in turn meaning that our inpatient beds are at capacity.
“As a result, and as per our escalation plans, we have taken the decision to postpone any elective surgery that needs an overnight stay. This comes into effect immediately, for the next two weeks.
The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said the government’s failure to use the school half-term for a circuit-breaker lockdown means they now need to “do something quickly to save Christmas”.
Ashworth said ministers had “lost a window of opportunity” for a national lockdown over the holidays, which its scientific advisers and Labour had been requesting for “two weeks or so”.
Speaking on Times Radio on Wednesday morning, he said government sources are planning for a tier 3 lockdown in most areas of the country “at some point in November”.
When asked if he thought families would be able to meet in groups of more than six on Christmas Day, he said:
That’s in the hands of all of us, and in the hands of the decisions it (the government) makes in the next week or so about what they’re going to do to get on top of this virus.
I think because they’ve missed this window of opportunity over the half term, I’m worried now that what we’ll see is deeper, more drastic lockdown action over November and December, which sadly probably does put Christmas at risk.
The government have got to do something quickly to save Christmas for everybody, because we want people to have a family Christmas, and I think it would be awful if people didn’t have that.
Calls grow for national lockdown
Good morning. Calls for national lockdown are growing as the UK’s coronavirus death toll passed 60,000 on Tuesday.
A further 367 Covid-19 deaths were confirmed yesterday – the largest number since May, and 265 higher than the previous day.
This brings the rolling weekly death toll to 200 a day, with 61,469 deaths now reported across the country, according to analysis of official data.
More than 9,000 people were in hospital with the virus on Tuesday, with Leeds teaching hospitals NHS trust the latest to cancel some non-urgent operations.
You can read the full report from Aamna Mohdin and Pamela Duncan here:
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The government’s delay in announcing full details of tier 3 restrictions in Nottingham has been described as “unacceptable” by the city’s council leader.
The city, alongside areas of Nottinghamshire including Broxtowe, Rushcliffe and Gedling, were expected to have been placed under the strictest lockdown measures from midnight tomorrow.
But the government has reportedly withdrawn its agreement for a “rethink” of the areas that will be affected amid rising infection rates in other parts of the county.
Nottingham city council’s Labour leader, David Mellen, said on Twitter:
“Nottingham people and businesses deserve clarity in difficult times. This is not good enough for our city.”