Hospital chiefs in the South West have warned the region will not avoid the extreme pressures felt by other parts of the NHS amid rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 inpatients.
The region was the least affected area of England during the pandemic’s first wave, but the medical director of two acute trusts yesterday predicted a “tidal wave” of COVID-19 coming to the West Country.
Adrian Harris, medical director at Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT), said the region faced an “absolute crisis” and individual trusts would be “hanging on by their fingernails”.
His comments, made at NDHT’s board meeting, came on the same day HSJ revealed the South West region now has the fastest growth in COVID-19 inpatients. Although the region is England’s least densely populated, it also has the lowest hospital capacity per capita in the country.
Dr Harris said: “We hope and we pray that the lockdown has come in time for Devon. My personal view — and of my colleagues around the country — is that there’s a tidal wave of COVID-19 coming to the West Country."
“We are preparing to be hit as hard as the East of England. If we are hit as hard, we will be hanging on by our fingernails and we are planning accordingly.”
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Source: HSJ, 8 January 2021