By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottinghamshire hospitals are again under significant pressure because ‘dozens and dozens’ of unvaccinated Covid-19 patients now require treatment.
Director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire, Jonathan Gribbin, says unvaccinated patients as young as 40 are being struck down with serious side effects of the virus and some are in a critical condition in local hospitals.
Speaking at a public health briefing on Friday (November 12) he said the county is still in the “heat of the pandemic” with the NHS at the heart of “the furnace”.
Concerns have been raised about the pressure on the NHS this winter, as more patients come forward with illnesses they left untreated during the pandemic.
Amanda Sullivan, from NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, also outlined the growing scale of the problem.
On November 9, there were 186 people in Nottinghamshire hospitals battling coronavirus compared to 160 people the week before.
Twenty patients required intensive care and are deemed as ‘critically ill’ with 12 patients losing their lives in the week ending November 9.
The week before the number of deaths stood at 18.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s not as high as it was in the peak and the vaccine programme has helped, but we are still seeing people dying of coronavirus. It is still very much with us.
“We are definitely seeing the vaccine showing a protective effect against serious illness and death and hospitalisation.
“When we look in the hospitals the most seriously ill are predominately in the unvaccinated and in that younger age range.
“Largely because older people are generally people with the highest vaccination rates. We are seeing younger people seriously ill who are unvaccinated.”
She said patients between 40 and 70 were seriously ill with coronavirus compared to the very elderly at the start of the pandemic.
She added: “We are unfortunately still seeing high levels of people who need to go into hospital with coronavirus – and this has risen slightly over the last week or so.
“We had 186 people in our hospitals on November 9 compared to 160 people the week before.
“This is almost two thirds of the highest levels that we had in wave one. In addition, we have more people coming forward with health problems.
“Problems that were stored up through the waves of the pandemic in earlier times and there are also winter viruses in circulation as well.
“This is adding to the pressures. As we go into winter it is more important than ever that you boost your immunity to flu and coronavirus.”
Across Nottinghamshire, 82 per cent of over-18s have had two doses of the vaccine, with “good numbers coming forward for their first and second dose”.
She said a third of 12 to 15-year-olds are vaccinated and 59 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds have been vaccinated.
Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire, said between 300 to 400 people per day were testing positive in the county.
“The present reality I want to describe for Nottinghamshire is one where we see dozens and dozens of people needing to be admitted to our local hospitals for treatment that relates to Covid,” he stressed.
“Covid is still a serious health hazard for people in Nottinghamshire.
“Alongside that, it is driven by hundreds of people across Nottinghamshire testing positive each day for coronavirus. We still remain very much in the heat of the pandemic.
“In many ways it’s our local NHS and care system that are at the heart of the furnace with a high degree of strain and pressure.
“That follows on from 18 months of strain and pressure. With winter ahead it is vital we continue to do what we can to protect ourselves and our local NHS.”
Lucy Hubber, Public Health director for Nottingham, said the city was “relatively stable” at 240 cases per 100,000 people.
But stressed: “That is a great picture, in not seeing a sustained increase, but 240 is still a really high case rate.”
The acting chief executive of Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital, Rupert Egginton, has also stressed his concerns.
He said the service had seen “unprecedented levels of emergency
patients for this time of the year”.
Emergency attendances were recorded at 126,965 between April to October this year compared to 94,596 the previous year.
Emergency admissions also rose from 29,249 patients to 34,499 over the same period.
He said: “We face a combination of managing Covid patients, an increase in the numbers of people accessing emergency care, and managing the backlogs of planned patients created during the pandemic.
“This means that we have to make very difficult clinical decisions on a daily basis to prioritise patients into limited capacity.”
He said on an average day the hospitals have “between three and five wards full of patients who no longer need hospital care and are waiting a discharge”.
“This means these beds are then not available for emergency, cancer or elective patients,” he stressed.
“Whilst our target is to have no more than 37 inpatients waiting for discharge; we currently have 222 patients awaiting discharge on November 3.”