Warning Wales could see “2500 people with coronavirus in hospital by Christmas Day” if cases continue to rise and “NHS will not cope”
The first minister warned that if cases continue to increase at the current rate Wales could see 2,500 in hospital by Christmas Day.
Yesterday Health Minister Vaughan Gething released a “framework” of actions that have been agreed for “local consideration” by NHS organisations. These include, maximising use and deployment of the workforce; ensuring people only access 999 or hospital care if essential; reducing long delays in crucial parts of the system; improving patient flow; and enabling people to leave hospital when ready, reducing the risk of readmission.
Nine healthcare unions have also joined together to highlight the stress currently being placed on NHS staff who are dealing with coronavirus patients, routine services and the winter pressures experienced every year.
The Joint Health Trade Unions said that its staff are “truly exhausted, mentally and physically, and they are extremely concerned about what January will bring.”
Speaking at this afternoon’s Welsh Government briefing the first minister warned that Wales could enter alert level four – equivalent to a lockdown – if case numbers and hospitalisations don’t decrease.
He said: “For the last two weeks, I have had to report to you that the coronavirus situation in Wales has worsened. Today, the position has deteriorated even further and is now very serious indeed.
“This week the number of coronavirus related patients in hospital passed 1900 for the very first time and continues to rise. If this increase continues at this rate, we could see 2,500 people with coronavirus in hospital by Christmas Day.
“A very large number of people who catch coronavirus go on to have a serious illness afterwards. They need the careful and expert care of our health service because many will be in hospital for weeks.
“Our NHS staff are doing an incredible job under very difficult circumstances and I thank them all for everything they have done throughout the pandemic and continue to do so.
“But there is only so much we can ask of them, there is only so much we can ask of our National Health Service. Put quite simply, the NHS will not be able to cope as it is today if we continue to see this level of Coronavirus related admissions in the coming weeks on top of normal winter pressures.”
He added: “If the strengthened measures of last week and the extra actions of this week, together with the efforts each and every one of us need to make, if those measures do not succeed in turning the tide of the virus, then it is inevitable that we will have to consider a move to alert level four immediately after Christmas.
“Now that move is not a foregone conclusion, the future remains in our hand. If we act together and all reduce the people we see and mix with, we can change the course of this terrible virus.
“We’ve done it before when we worked together to protect the NHS and save lives and we need to do the same thing again.
“In the last seven days, there have been more than 12,000 new cases of coronavirus. That’s the size of a town like Carmarthen here in Wales, The virus is here, it is widespread throughout the UK and Wales.
“The best present any one of us can give our families this year is to have a coronavirus free Christmas. For that to happen we all need to reduce the number of people we see and mix with.
“The chief medical officers message to people in Wales this week has been simple. Don’t mix with people outside your own household. If we all do that, we can keep our families safe and keep Wales safe too.”
Commenting on this afternoon’s announcement, Shadow Health Minister, Andrew RT Davies, said: “The first minister’s announcement today set out the bleak landscape before the people of Wales in relation to Covid infection rates and the huge pressure our NHS is under.
“Much of the responsibility for the current situation sits on the shoulders of the Welsh Labour-led Government’s shoulders for the poor decisions they have taken up until today.
“As Welsh Conservatives, we stand ready to work with the government here to bear down on the virus and regain control of the situation for the benefit of the people of Wales.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com