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Hospitals in England’s worst-hit NHS trust for coronavirus admissions have begun scaling back non-urgent care, it has been reported.
Staff at the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were told non-urgent care would be reduced in a “phased approach”, HSJ reported.
They were reportedly told the trust has reached a “critical point” in dealing with the virus, with non-specialist staff set to be redeployed to critical care.
HSJ quoted trust chief executive Steve Warburton as saying: “We recognise that this will be distressing for patients whose elective care needs to be rescheduled, however we must always ensure that the care we provide is safe.”
Yahoo News UK has approached the trust for comment.
It comes after a chart (pictured, below) used at a Downing Street press conference demonstrated the extent to which the trust has been hit by COVID-19 admissions.
Liverpool’s latest seven-day average is more than double that of the next highest, the Pennine Acute NHS Hospitals Trust.
Liverpool also has the third-highest rate of COVID infections in England, with 598.5 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to 8 October, the latest date for which figures are available.
Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, warned that COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths are “baked in” in areas such as Liverpool where infections are high.
He told Monday’s briefing: “As patients become ill with COVID-19 they don’t immediately go to hospital.
“It takes some time before they become ill enough to go to hospital, and they don’t die the moment they arrive.
“The point I’m trying to make here is there is a lag between cases and when we see hospital admissions rise and when we see deaths rise.”
Prof Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, also said there are now more COVID-19 patients in hospital than there were when the government ordered the national lockdown in March.
He said he did not want to have to delay operations by diverting staff to battle the coronavirus a second time round.
“Where we can, we don’t want this to happen again this time, but that depends on all of us doing what needs to be done to contain this virus in the community.”
He urged: “Please use NHS services if you need them for your health needs.”
Watch: What is long COVID?