More than 450 patients are currently in Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands and Good Hope hospitals with coronavirus – and admissions keep coming in, putting extreme pressure on the hospitals’ services.
The city’s main hospitals trust, University Hospitals Birmingham, now has more Covid inpatients than any other trust in the country and is seeing more daily admissions than any other – up to 60 a day.
And around one in eight of them die, despite improved treatments.
Outlining the situation in the hospitals right now, UHB chief executive Dr David Rosser said the pressure was immense.
He joined a chorus of calls to residents to do all they could to protect themselves and others – and not to think talk of an imminent vaccine was reason to celebrate now.
He said: “A vaccine is a long way off…clearly well into March or April at least before everyone here will be vaccinated…so let us remember the number of people still dying of this disease.
“There are a lot of days between now and March.
“I sit down every day and see, say 16 new admissions today, and the statistics suggest two of them are going to die. It is really serious stuff and the idea people think a vaccination is coming so we can go out and party is terrifying.”
Around one in eight people admitted with covid are dying – fewer than during the first wave, because of improved treatments, but still a horrific situation.
Dr Rosser warned the trust was on course to see DOUBLE the admission rate this month than in March or even April, when the first wave of the pandemic peaked.
He said he ‘doesn’t know’ why the trust is, again, being hardest-hit, just as it was during the first wave.
Dr Rosser was speaking at today’s regional briefing hosted by mayor Andy Street and featuring updates from health and council leaders.
“If we continue as we are through the rest of November, we will have twice as many Covid admissions as we did in March or April. That puts perspective on the pressures we are under.
“That also impacts on what we can do for patients with non covid conditions, leading to a reduction in the number of operations we can perform and a significant increase in the length of waiting times.
“We are using all the capacity we can in the private sector too, and we are doing as much as we can in Solihull, our Covid free location.
“The most important thing for us is that we have very high Covid demand on our services and we are doing our best to maintain Solihull as covid free.” He said having to use Solihull for more emergency admissions would “seriously impact our ability to maintain more operations.”
Plans to use the NEC Nightingale as an overflow hospital have so far not been activated, with staffing the principal issue.
All planned procedures at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham due to take place this month have been axed.
The rising number of very sick patients with Covid and other conditions was blamed for the decision.
Gynaecology procedures at Good Hope Hospital have also been paused.
The hospitals’ A&E departments are also restricting access to those with life threatening or serious injuries that can’t be treated by other parts of the health service.