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  • Writer's pictureRichard Cree

It’ll All Be Over By Christmas?

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

3rd November 2021

UK COVID Deaths – Daily 217 / 7-Day average 163

Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 141,181

Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 164,491 (up to 22 Oct)

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 694

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 85

James Cook Critical Care

COVID cases – 8 (6 ventilated)

Non-COVID cases – 47 (31 ventilated)


The past week has been a very busy one in Critical Care. The hospital has been feeling the effect of the previous rise in COVID cases with the number of patients being admitted to the hospital continuing to increase slowly, day by day. There are over a dozen patients who are sick enough to require CPAP on the COVID wards and we have admitted a number of them to the ICU to be ventilated.


The number of patients on Intensive Care remains fairly static and most of our current pressure is a result of the increasing number of non-COVID patients that require ventilation. Each has a different reason for needing Intensive Care. It’s an eclectic mix of aliments that includes bacterial pneumonias, pyelonephritis, dental abscesses, septicaemia, heart attacks, cardiac arrests, car accidents, motorbike accidents, horse-riding accidents, tractor accidents, falls up stairs, falls down stairs, acute pancreatitis due to gallstones, acute pancreatitis due to alcohol, diabetic ketoacidosis, liver failure, kidney failure, bone marrow failure, hypoxic brain injury, Guillian-Barre syndrome, weird neurology, even weirder neurology, genetic disorders, epilepsy, sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhages, sub-dural brain haemorrhages, intra-cranial brain haemorrhages, strokes, assorted surgical complications, treatable cancer, untreatable cancer and various assorted drug overdoses.


Last week saw us break a new record for the number of non-COVID patients we were ventilating. The closest we have come in the past was during the swine ‘flu pandemic of 2009. Swine ‘flu was very different from regular influenza in that it could cause serious illness in young people who then often required ventilation. The strain of influenza responsible for swine ‘flu could cause direct lung inflammation in a similar way to COVID-19 but, much more commonly, infection would lead to secondary bacterial pneumonias. Despite being labelled as a pandemic by the WHO, swine ‘flu led to fewer deaths worldwide than a regular seasonal ‘flu epidemic. This was thought to be due to older people, who normally are most at risk of death from 'flu, having some residual immunity following past influenza infections or vaccinations. So, whilst fewer people died overall, the significant number of younger, sicker patients on ventilators resulted in a heavy burden for Intensive Care Units up and down the country.


The winter of 2009 was, in my opinion, the last time we experienced what I would call a really bad winter. Don’t get me wrong, the NHS has been very busy every winter since and there are always horror stories about people having to wait hours for an ambulance, patients being cared for on trolleys in corridors and ambulances backed up outside hospitals but, on the whole, we have got away with it. Just. As a result, most of the nation is unaware of just how much havoc a truly bad winter could unleash on its beloved NHS.


Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that, during the week ending 22nd October, an estimated 1 in 50 of the English population was infected with COVID-19. The figure in Wales was much worse at 1 in 40. This is the highest level of infections that the ONS has yet recorded and is higher than the figure seen at the peak of the second wave. Cases were highest amongst teenagers but were also rising in those over 50. Luckily, the number of daily reported cases has since fallen, both nationally and locally and so we may soon start to see the number of hospital admissions decrease a little.


Modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has predicted that the number of people being infected with COVID-19 could fall dramatically over the next month. They even predicted that, by the end of December, the number of new cases could fall as low as 5000 a day. This would effectively mean that the third wave would be done and dusted by Christmas. The rationale for this prediction is that we will have achieved ‘herd immunity’ by then as a result of letting COVID run its course. In young people this immunity is a result of so many of them being recently infected and in the older population, it is the result of the vaccination programme.


The number of people dying from COVID-19 is continuing to rise. The country's Intensive Care Units are struggling to cope with the current level of demand for both COVID and non-COVID patients. The idea that the number of new COVID infections is about to plummet is very beguiling. The sooner the number of COVID patients being admitted to hospital falls, the better. We might then stand a chance of finding room for everyone else. Unfortunately, over the past 20 months, I have seen many different models and predictions of what COVID-19 will do and when it will do it. None of them has been on the money and so, as much as I would dearly love to believe that it’ll all be over by Christmas, I won’t be hanging up my PPE just yet.



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14 comentarios


nicky.huntley69
16 nov 2021

Hi Richard would love to know your views on the dismissal of unvaccinated staff …if these staff test negative everyday (as current) is that not enough to avoid staff shortages which could see damage to services and patient care?

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
17 nov 2021
Contestando a

Hi Nicky Forgive me for re-posting an answer to this question from a little while ago: This is such a complex, contentious issue. Inadvertent transmission of COVID-19 from healthcare workers to patients has undoubtedly led to many deaths. Vaccinating healthcare workers will result in fewer infections in patients and I personally think it is the duty of all healthcare workers to be vaccinated. However, whether you should sack those who don’t want to get vaccinated is a different question. To my mind, some form of compromise might be in order. There will be certain patients who remain vulnerable to infection with COVID and are still at risk of life-threatening illness even if the patient has been vaccinated. It would make sense to…

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ickledon
04 nov 2021

Hi. Thank you so much for your really informative blogs. They are the one source I have relied on for honest and reliable information throughout this pandemic. my family have all just tested positive and thankfully haven’t been too poorly which I think is thanks to the vaccine. Can I just ask, are the Covid patients currently in hospital vaccinated? What’s the biggest cause of hospitalisation on Covid patients at the minute?

thanks again to you and all the staff at JCH- you really are super heroes 🌟 we are all so grateful x

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
17 nov 2021
Contestando a

Hi. Sorry not to reply before now but I missed your comment. I hope my latest post will answer this question! Hope you are all recovered and feeling better. Cheers, Richard

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kimmielam001
04 nov 2021

Wow! That list of ailments is phenomena! I can’t begin to imagine how skilled you have to be and the strain you must be under to assess and cater for each patient’s individual needs. We focus so much on Covid we almost overlook all the other reasons people end up in hospital. How proud we should be of our wonderful NHS and people like you who pick up the pieces when things go wrong for us - we must fight to ensure the government fails in its attempt to privatise it by stealth. Thanks so much for your posts. They feel more real than anything else I have read throughout this pandemic.

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
04 nov 2021
Contestando a

Thank you very much! Richard

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m.gallagher40
04 nov 2021

Richard we are due to get our booster jabs would you still recommend we get them or will our double jabs protect us through winter avoiding hospitalisation. I don’t think the messages on booster Jabs has been clear enough personally. Thanks for all that you & your staff do.

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m.gallagher40
04 nov 2021
Contestando a

Thank you, great & trusted advice as always

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peter.nms
04 nov 2021

Hi Richard,


Thank you for your updates, as always, they are very much appreciated.


I visited my local Sainsbury's store a few days ago. I haven't been for weeks, I see that the hand sanitiser stations have been removed as have all posters and notices asking people to wear masks.


I seem to be the only person still wearing a mask and keeping my distance.


I will keep this one short and sweet, I have so much to say relating to our Government but nothing positive.


Thanks again to you and all your colleagues for your never ending Covid purgatory.


Best wishes

Peter


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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
04 nov 2021
Contestando a

Thank you Peter! Cheers, Richard

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