COVID update

All Cheshire and Merseyside hospitals are experiencing severe pressure on services, including critical care, due to high and rising numbers of COVID patients.

The majority of acute trusts are above 90% overall occupancy, with critical care particularly under pressure, which has invoked plans for further surge beds to care for the most sick COVID patients.

COVID occupancy is at unprecedented levels at the time of writing: 53% at Countess of Chester; 40% at Wirral University Hospitals; 38% at Warrington and Halton Hospitals; 37% at Mid Cheshire Hospitals; 33% at Liverpool University Hospitals; 30% at Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals, 26% at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals.

Although community infection rates are now rising more slowly, demand and capacity modelling indicates that hospital admissions are expected to increase for at least two more weeks.  There is a real danger, without further action, that hospital systems could become overwhelmed.

Mutual aid between hospitals has been extended. Cheshire and Merseyside specialist trusts – Liverpool Heart and Chest, the Walton Centre, Liverpool Women’s and Alder Hey, have all provided support by receiving both COVID and non COVID patients to ease pressure on acute trusts.

The Hospital Cell secured agreement from NHS England that trusts should temporarily cancel all non-urgent inpatient elective activity. Priority cases, including urgent care and cancer treatment are continuing. The temporary stand down of routine elective care includes specialist trusts, in order that they can provide additional mutual aid to the system.  Some day-case activity has continued, but only where it does not impact upon inpatient bed requirements or the redeployment of staff.

It is hoped that these actions will only need to be in place for a short period, once the current restrictions begin to have an impact.

The flow of patients out of hospital remains a significant issue in many places, despite the efforts of the system in implementing a range of discharge initiatives. Stretch targets have now been set to reduce the number of patients ready for discharge. The Hospital Cell is working closely with the Out of Hospital Cell to ensure there is sufficient focus on achieving more rapid discharge.

The flow of patients out of hospital remains a significant issue in some places, despite the efforts of the system in implementing a range of discharge initiatives. Stretch targets have now been set to reduce the number of patients ready for discharge. The Hospital Cell is working closely with the Out of Hospital cell to ensure there is sufficient focus on achieving more rapid discharge.