'This is still a massive problem' - says Hartlepool hospital boss amid upsurge in Covid patients
“We need to be remain vigilant and continue to take serious precautions to protect ourselves and other members of society.”
That is the view of a senior doctor at Hartlepool’s major health trust as it faces rises in Covid-19 patients and pressure on other services.
Deepak Dwarakanath, medical director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, has warned people to remain vigilant even after the latest relaxation of coronavirus restrictions on Monday’s so-called Freedom Day.
He has revealed how the trust has gone from treating no Covid-19 patients at the start of this month to caring for 35 at the start of this week.
Twelve of them were admitted just 24 hours before Freedom Day.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “Our region is unfortunately top of the league nationally for the number of patients with the virus.
“This has started to have an impact on hospital admissions.
“Two to three weeks ago we had no Covid patients in the trust.
“As of yesterday, we had 35 patients in our care – 12 were admitted in one day on Sunday.
“We also have six patients in intensive care, four of which are on ventilator support.
“These people aren’t elderly, they are younger or middle aged.
“This is still a massive problem and it is still with us.”
The trust is planning for the winter period and fears it will be one of the busiest ever.
Dr Dwarakanath added: “Winter planning is well underway.
“Last year there were very few admissions of people with the flu. But with the increased mixing of people flu will be more of an issue
“There will be a further resurgence of Covid as the cold weather comes back.
“And there will be the usual pressures of frailty related illnesses.
“We must maintain our core services, in spite of these pressures, with cancer care and appointments.
“This will be one of the most pressured winters the NHS has ever had.
“My message to the public is, when you have the opportunity to have your vaccine, have it and then have your second jab.
"Wear mask in confined areas and think about where you go. And be vigilant with hand washing and general hygiene.”