Posted: Fri 10th Apr 2020

Expected pressure on NHS in Wales will be ‘significant and visible’ – now 369 critical care beds in Wales with 50% available

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Apr 10th, 2020

Community transmission has been ‘much more visible’ in the South East of Wales, an area that the First Minster last week said had seen testing taking place ‘more vigorously and more widely’.

Andrew Goodall , Chief Executive of NHS Wales, kicked off his briefing on Thursday by telling the public, “By staying at home, you’ve helped to limit the demands on our health and our care system but we are still planning for the pressure on our health care system to be significant and visible as the virus continues to spread.

“Please stay at home. Protect the NHS and help us to save lives”.

Mr Goodall gave an update to the capacity of the NHS in Wales, with all but one hospital reporting status of ‘green’ or Level 1 (out of four). About 47% of acute hospital beds, around 3250 beds, are currently empty with 816 people with confirmed Coronavirus in hospital today, and a further 344 with suspected cases.

Mr Goodall noted that “…there are many more people at home with Coronavirus do not need to be in a hospital bed”.

“We’ve increased our critical care capacity further to 369 beds, and this will continue to increase even over the next week. Around 50% of our critical care beds are available, one in three are occupied by people with confirmed or suspected Coronavirus.

“And the greatest pressure on critical care beds remains in southeast of Wales.”

With the very quick spin up of field hospitals the NHS in Wales are close to having an extra 7000 hospital beds, with ‘a number of these are already in place’. The Principality Stadium expects to receive patients from Sunday onwards.

In a range of data given in the brief it was revealed one in four calls to 999 are coronavirus related, however despite recent warnings people are still not advising the ambulance service they have coronavirus symptoms thus exposing crews to an avoidable risk.

Mr Goodall said, “I want to thank our health and social care staff, all those involved in frontline care, and those working in the background to ensure services continue.

You’re doing an extraordinary job. Finally, please help the NHS and care service continue to work for you.

We will continue to prepare for Coronavirus and we will respond to your needs when you need it. But by staying at home, you will protect the NHS and you will help to save lives.”

“I think we need to thank people for what they’re doing. But we need to have their ongoing support for that even during an Easter weekend, no matter how difficult, by staying home they will help us with our preparations.”

Mr Goodall was asked: “At launch the new Public Health Wales dashboard showed the single Cardiff council area has 65% more tests than the entire of the health board that covers North Wales and its six councils. How are the distribution of tests decided?”

The current dashboard data shows there has been 301 tests in Flintshire and a total of 1,479 across all council areas in North Wales.

Cardiff council area shows 2,346 tests. The dashboard does show population comparisons, with 644 tests per 100k of population compared to 247 per 100k for Wrexham or 144 per 100k for Anglesey.

Mr Goodall replied, “Just to comment on the distribution of the tests, clearly where tests are actively being put in place they will follow the level of transmission that was occurring within the community.

It’s very clear to us in Wales, that the start of our community transmission has been much more visible in the South East Wales area of Wales.

Whilst there are cases of course that happening across Wales, it varies by geographical area, so our approach is to ensure that we have a clear and consistent approach about how people are tested and the appropriateness of that testing.

“Those criteria will apply wherever the volume of cases that will be required to be seen to be positive or negative occur, and that will be true whether it is North Wales, West Wales, or the South East of Wales.”

On the 30th of March the First Minister said that a possible ‘hotspot’ in Gwent could be put down to testing ‘more vigorously and more widely’ there and “it looks like there’s more there, because we’ve tested more people there than elsewhere.”

He was also asked, “We have had concerns raised about the expiry dates of PPE being supplied. Is it possible to confirm all the PPE being distributed is within its use by date?”

Mr Goodall explained, “We’ve had to really increase very very significantly the amount of PP equipment being provided across Wales to sectors.

I was outlining just last week about how the focus is on the hospital setting, the care home setting, GP areas and pharmacies and we have to make sure that we have the volume and the scale of supplies that are available,

“The majority of PPE does not have issues with expiry or use by dates, but there will be a technical issue with some face masks that they will have a certain shelf life. Therefore, we have to be quite careful on the expiry dates.

“What I can say is that any equipment that is in use will have been through a technical process to ensure that it is fully appropriate to be used. Whether that is about expiry dates that have been reviewed, at the Welsh or the UK level, or whether that is about new supplies, we will be ensuring that they continue to be compliant.”

You can view today’s brief along with the Q&A in full via the below video:

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