Liverpool’s hospitals are treating more coronavirus patients now than they were at the peak of the crisis, it was claimed today.
The medical director of the biggest NHS trust in the city said beds occupied by Covid-19 patients had already surpassed levels in April and that they were ‘continuing to rise’.
Dr Tristan Cope, of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, made the claim on Twitter today but did not offer any data to back it up.
The most recent official figures only go up to October 1, and show 95 Covid-19 patients were in the trust’s hospitals, which include the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Aintree University Hospital and Broadgreen Hospital.
That’s barely a quarter of the 390 beds filled by virus sufferers at the peak on April 13, NHS England data shows.
However, it is possible the situation in Liverpool’s hospitals has changed dramatically since October 1. It takes about three weeks for hospitalisations and deaths to start spiking after a surge in infections, due to the lag in time it takes for the virus to take effect.
Liverpool — which is currently in a Tier Three lockdown — was recording just 94 cases per week in early September but by the end of that month the figure was more than 2,000.
Dr Cope’s comments, and the disparities in the statistics, will fuel an ongoing row over transparency around hospital data.
The Government has used terrifying hospital statistics to justify putting cities under harsher lockdowns. But without up-to-date figures being regularly published, it has been difficult to fact check the claims.
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and other local leaders have accused ministers and health professionals of ‘cherry picking’ figures to exaggerate the scale of the problem in the North West.
The most recent official figures only go up to October 1, and show 95 Covid-19 patients were in the trust’s hospitals, which include the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Aintree University Hospital and Broadgreen Hospital. That’s barely a quarter of the 390 beds filled by virus sufferers at the peak on April 13
More recent hospital admissions data might paint a clearer picture of the crisis in Liverpool.
NHS figures that go up to October 11 show that, since the start of the month, there were 403 Covid-19 patients taken to Liverpool University Hospitals Trusts.
Dr Tristan Cope, medical director at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, said beds occupied by Covid-19 patients had already surpassed levels in April and that they were ‘continuing to rise’
That’s more than triple the amount admitted in the 11 days prior, when there were just 133. However, it is also not clear how many patients have been discharged since.
Writing on Twitter, Dr Cope said: ‘Sadly we are now treating more patients in hospital with Covid-19 @LivHospitals than we did in April at the peak of the first wave and numbers continue to rise.
‘So important that people in #liverpool and @LivCityRegion adhere to social distancing restrictions.
‘Treating so many Covid patients in addition to usual acute and emergency care of patients with non-Covid conditions puts a huge strain on @LivHospitals staff. Thank you to all our staff for their incredible hard work and dedication in dealing with this very difficult situation.
‘We can all help reduce that pressure by doing the right thing and taking some very simple measures: washing our hands frequently, keeping our distance from others from outside our household and wearing face coverings in indoor settings.’
The city region became the first area of the country to become subject to Tier 3 restrictions, which include the closure of bars and pubs which are not serving food, last week.
Liverpool has the third highest infection rate in the country according to the latest figures, although the numbers are dropping.
In the seven days up until October 17 there were 2,970 recorded new cases, meaning a rate of 596.3 cases per 100,000 people, down from 691.7 the week before.
Chief nurse of the hospitals trust Dianne Brown wrote on Twitter: ‘As Covid rates @LivHospitals exceed the number back in April, need to recognise the impact this is having on our staff.
‘Thank you to each and everyone of you, it is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting – you are doing an amazing job.’
Last week, MailOnline revealed intensive care units at Liverpool’s biggest NHS trust were no busier than normal for this time of year, it emerged today.
Councillor Paul Brant sparked fears when he claimed the city’s critical-care units were already 95 per cent full and ‘filling up very fast’ amid a spike in Covid-19 cases.
But Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust dismissed the claim, insisting that its units were only 80 per cent full with just 47 of 61 critical-care beds occupied. The trust’s intensive care unit is normally 85 per cent full in October.
It comes after hospital bed occupancy was used as a propaganda tool in the bad-tempered row over Covid restrictions in Manchester.
Downing Street has used terrifying statistics in an attempt to gain public support for forcing local leaders into accepting strict tier-three measures.
They claim the city’s hospitals will become ‘overwhelmed’ within a few weeks, and even the surge capacity will be used up.
But Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and other local leaders have challenged the Government’s use of data, accusing ministers of ‘cherry picking’ figures to exaggerate the scale of the problem in the North West.
NHS data reveals the units are normally 85 per cent occupied at this time of year. But at present they are only 80 per cent full, the hospital trust has said
They claim that, even though cases are increasing, current occupancy in critical-care units is not far above the norm for this time of year.
Even Professor Jane Eddleston, who leads the Government’s coronavirus response in Greater Manchester, has insisted that although the numbers are ‘stark’ the ‘system can cope’.
But the fact is there is simply not enough data to form an accurate picture. Intensive care occupancy figures are not regularly collected and the Government’s projections are murky at best.
And health officials in Manchester have refused to provide the relevant data, insisting they will not provide a ‘running commentary’ on bed occupancy.
And because younger people now form the bulk of new cases, there is also a longer time lag between infection and hospital admission. This means we are less likely to see the sudden spike in very sick patients that we saw back in the spring, which put hospitals under such strain.
Nationwide, for example, it took a month – from March 1 to April 1 – for hospital admissions to rise from zero to 3,500 a day. Between September 1 and October 1, in comparison, the number went from 100 to 500.