Hospital reports one of busiest days for A&E as coronavirus cases rise
A hospital in a coronavirus hotspot has reported one of the busiest ever days for its emergency department.
Patients were urged only to attend A&E at the Royal Bolton Hospital if it was absolutely necessary as hospital bosses reported more people requiring treatment for the effects of Covid-19, as well as patients with a range of problems.
The Greater Manchester borough, one of the areas where the Indian variant has been identified, has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, with 1,296 new cases in the seven days to May 20.
In a statement on Tuesday, chief operating officer and deputy chief executive of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust Andy Ennis said: “Yesterday was one of the busiest days we have ever had in our emergency department.
“People are presenting with a range of problems and staff are working very hard to ensure they receive all the care they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“However, we are also now seeing more people requiring hospital treatment from the effects of Covid-19, and, whilst we have discharged a number overnight, today we still have 41 inpatients with Covid, including eight in critical care.
“Going into the bank holiday weekend and half-term, which is always a busy time for the NHS, we anticipate this pressure continuing. As such we are taking urgent actions to ensure we can continue to manage this demand effectively.
“We urge the public to continue to take all necessary steps to protect themselves and others, follow the relevant national guidance, and to only attend our emergency department if absolutely necessary.”
Patients were advised to call NHS 111 if they were unsure which service was suitable for their needs.
Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese, the health and care lead for Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said the number of Covid patients at the Bolton hospital was less than a third of what it was at the peak of the pandemic, despite increasing case numbers.
He said: “Even though there is a high proportion of cases, that high proportion of cases is not translating into significant increases in hospitalisation, and, more importantly, it is not leading to more people in ICU.”
He said those being admitted to hospital included people aged 35 to 60, and although some of them would have been eligible for one or two vaccinations, a bigger number of patients had only recently become eligible for the jab.
He added: “We’re also seeing some cases as well where people are getting ill who have been vaccinated but the level of illness is significantly less than it was previously.”
Sir Richard said the NHS was dealing with the combined pressure of Covid cases and trying to return to business as usual with people whose treatment may have been delayed because of the pandemic.
Speaking during a virtual press conference, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham called on ministers to clarify the coronavirus guidance on travelling to and from coronavirus hot-spots such as Bolton.
He said: “Let’s not repeat the mistakes of last year, let’s have this cleared up immediately, ahead of the bank holiday weekend, so everybody knows where they stand.”
He said Bolton residents should be allowed to use “their good judgment”.
Asked if residents should cancel holidays, Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh said they should “just behave sensibly”.
He said: “As long as they follow the guidance I don’t believe residents in Bolton should be cancelling holidays.”
Asked about the meeting with Government officials to discuss the guidance, Coun Greenhalgh said: “I think there was general confusion all around at the change in what had happened on the website.”
He said he was fighting “tooth and nail” to avoid a local lockdown, which he said he knew did not work.
He said there was a “fear” the town would be singled out.
He added: “I genuinely believe there is an underlying resentment that can very easily, if we’re not careful, turn into anger.”
A joint statement issued by directors of public health in Burnley, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside said: “Following the national coverage of recently revised guidance we have met with national officials and confirmed there are no restrictions on travel in or out of each of our areas: There are no local lockdowns.
“In areas where the new Covid variant is spreading we are all working together to boost testing and vaccination and to support self-isolation.
“There are sensible public health precautions people can take as individuals in line with the sorts of advice we have all been following throughout the pandemic.
“We will keep sharing that and working with national officials to make sure people understand what they need to think about as they go about their daily lives.”
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