An intensive care consultant has said the number of coronavirus cases looks worse than “even gloom-mongers like me had feared”.
Dr Richard Cree works at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and writes on his nomoresurgeons.com blog about his role.
In a post on Tuesday, he said that there were 93 Covid-19 patients in the hospital at the weekend, with “significant numbers” requiring continuous positive airway pressure on the three coronavirus wards, and more ventilated patients in intensive care.
Dr Cree said when the government’s leading scientists presented the worst-case scenario in September, growth of cases was low and deaths even lower.
He wrote: “As a result, most people refused to believe such a prophecy.
“It turns out that everyone was wrong and that the situation looks much worse than even gloom-mongers like me had feared.”
He believed the second lockdown would not be as effective as the first because schools will remain open this time.
Dr Cree also said the number of coronavirus patients in the hospital was “having a worsening effect on the hospital’s ability to function normally” and some surgery has had to be suspended.
He added: “This disruption is likely to continue for the rest of the week.
“However, the organisation continues to do its utmost to ensure that most surgery will continue as normal and there is to be no disruption to urgent and emergency operations.”
There are “22 hospitals’ worth” of coronavirus patients in hospitals in England, the head of the NHS has said.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS in England, said there had been a “very substantial” increase in “desperately sick patients in hospitals” in October.
It comes as MPs prepare to vote on a new four-week coronavirus lockdown for England amid warnings the NHS will be overwhelmed with thousands more deaths unless action is taken.
Sir Simon told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We began early September with under 500 coronavirus patients in hospitals.
“By the beginning of October that had become 2,000. As of today that is just under 11,000.
“So, put another way, we’ve got 22 hospitals’ worth of coronavirus patients across England.
“And indeed, even since Saturday, when the Prime Minister gave his press conference, we filled another two hospitals full of severely ill coronavirus patients.”
He added: “In many parts of the country we’re now seeing more coronavirus inpatients in hospital and in intensive care than we saw in the first peak in April.”
Sir Simon said the NHS wants to “minimise” coronavirus “spiralling out of control” so other services are not disrupted.
He said health service did not run out of critical care capacity during the first wave, adding: “We fully expect that will continue to be the case, and indeed the action Parliament is considering today will mean not only that, but should mean that we will not need to embark on a national deferral of routine operations across the country and instead will continue with targeted local decisions based on the particular pressures individual hospitals and geographies are facing.”
But he said that the NHS was “gearing up” to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine should one become available before the end of the year.
On a potential Covid vaccine, Sir Simon added: “There are over 200 vaccines in development and we believe that we should hopefully get one or more of those available from the first part of next year.
“In anticipation of that we’re also gearing the NHS up to be ready to make a start on administering Covid vaccines before Christmas, if they become available.
“We reached an agreement with GPs to ensure they will be doing that, and we’ll be writing to GP practices this week to get them geared up to start by Christmas if the vaccine becomes available.”