The UK recorded a further 57,725 cases of Covid-19 today. It is the fifth day running that the figure has topped 50,000. There were also and further 445 deaths.
Yesterday’s data had shown 53,285 new coronavirus infections and 613 deaths. The total official count now stands at 74,570.
The number of new infections is adding even more strain on an already stretched NHS, which is likely leading to cancellations of life saving surgery, it has been reported.
President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England Neil Mortensen said the problems facing health centres was ‘like watching a car crash in slow motion’.
He told the Times: ‘At the same time as people returned to work, to restaurants and shops, the new more contagious variant insidiously took hold in the south and east of England.
‘Hospitals started to see the effects in mid-December, and across many parts of the country now, scheduled operations for hip or knee replacements, or ear, nose and throat operations, have had to be cancelled.
‘Thousands of people already waiting, in pain or immobile for many months, will have been sorely disappointed this Christmas to have their operation cancelled or postponed.’
A nurse has described the “unbearable” conditions in their hospital as Covid-19 patient numbers continue to rise.
The nurse, who works at the Whittington Hospital in north London, described patients being left in corridors, some spending up to three hours in ambulances because of a lack of beds and one being left without oxygen when their cylinder ran out.
The nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the PA news agency: “I’m worried about patient safety because if these little things are happening now when we’re short and it’s busy, it’s only going to get worse.
“I don’t know what else will happen – it worries me.”
A spokesperson from Whittington Health said: “Whilst we do not comment on anonymous claims, we take these allegations very seriously.
“Like the whole NHS, Whittington Health is currently experiencing pressure as a result of a rapid increase in Covid-positive patients.
“However, the safety of our patients remains our top priority and our staff are working tirelessly to ensure that we can continue to provide safe, effective and compassionate care to those who require it.”
Now the Observer reports that NHS bosses are set to cancel urgent surgery across the capital.
Health chiefs are considering the drastic action because hospitals across the capital are struggling to cope with the number of Covid admissions.
The operations likely to be cancelled, known as “priority two” procedures, mainly involve surgery for cancer where specialists have judged that the patients need to be operated on within four weeks. Any delay could allow their tumour to grow, the disease to spread or both, thus reducing their chances of survival.
“These are operations that are curative if done within four weeks but if you wait longer they may not be so effective”, said one senior London NHS figure to the newspaper.
“The impact of this on patients’ health depends on when they get rebooked. Delaying cancer surgery can lead to tumours growing or spreading – and worse outcomes.”
Hospitals in the UK have began receiving batches of the newly approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in preparation for its rollout on Monday.
About 530,000 doses of the vaccine will be available from the beginning of next week, with already identified vulnerable groups the priority for immunisation.
One of the first hospitals to take delivery of a batch on Saturday morning was the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.