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NHS under pressure from rising virus cases—and worse could be yet to come

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Issue 2762
Health workers fear the NHS could be overwhelmed
Health workers fear the NHS could be overwhelmed (Pic: Flickr/mangopulp2008)

A sharp rise in the number of patients with coronavirus being admitted to hospital is already causing chaos in the NHS. And far worse could be coming as the Tories lift all virus restrictions.

Cancer patients at one of England’s largest hospital trusts have had their surgeries cancelled after a “marked increase” in Covid admissions.

Many of those patients have already waited months for urgent treatment that was suspended due to the pandemic.

Clinical directors at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust sent an email to doctors on Wednesday morning. “Four patients with cancer are about to be cancelled today with very difficult and upsetting conversations,” it said.

“In critical care we’ve had six extra admissions, from four to 10 yesterday.”

The Leeds hospital message, which was leaked to The Independent newspaper, adds, “It’s highly likely that we’ll need to open another Covid ward this week.

“We’ve got too many inpatients to manage this increase within [emergency speciality medicine] and the outlier numbers are very high.

“It’s affecting all our wards everywhere.”

“Outliers” are patients placed in wards away from the speciality looking after them because of a lack of beds.

The situation in cancer care in Leeds is a warning of what is likely to happen across Britain as Covid cases rise sharply.

It is true that vaccines mean the proportion of people, who catch Covid and get seriously ill, is far fewer than earlier in the pandemic.

But with daily cases expected to soar past 100,000 by August, the number of people with Covid during the summer could hit the millions.

Even if only a fraction of those people end up in hospital, the NHS will be completely overwhelmed.


Without protective measures, the virus will likely run rampant among the most vulnerable people.

But it will also hit millions of young people who are yet to be vaccinated or have had only a single jab.

That could lead to vast numbers of people suffering with the terrible symptoms of long Covid.

Herded to our deaths?
Herded to our deaths?
  Read More

But the government are determined to carry on with this this dangerous approach.

The Tories have returned to their previous strategy—herd immunity. That means ministers are actively hoping that millions of people get infected and develop Covid antibodies.

This, they believe, will cause the virus to die out because it has run out of people to infect.

But many thousands of people could end up as the “collateral damage” of the Tory plan.

And, the creation of such a large pool of infected people creates the potential to create many more coronavirus variants. Some of them may be more dangerous than the Delta variant.

It is even possible that some new strains may become antibody resistant, rendering the vaccines weak or useless.

The Tories’ gamble is already creating havoc in the health service. But if their unlocking plans go badly, we will all pay a heavy price.

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