Updated: Jun 10
9th June 2022
UK COVID Deaths –Daily average 80
Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 177,977
Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 195,962 (up to 20 May)
James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 874
All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 75
James Cook Critical Care
COVID cases – 2 (0 ventilated)
Non-COVID cases – 44 (22 ventilated)
Last week saw four days of celebration to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As well as honouring Her Majesty’s service, it was a chance for the nation to let its hair down. Huge crowds filled the Mall and gathered in front of Buckingham Palace, villages were bursting with bunting and you couldn’t get hold of a Union Jack for love nor money. As I watched the Queen make an appearance on the Palace balcony, I thought back to when she had addressed the nation right at the start of the pandemic. Her words had echoed those of Dame Vera Lynn as she reassured us that, once the the worst was over, “we will meet again.” She was right, of course, and for many the Jubilee weekend marked an unofficial end to the pandemic.
Quite what will constitute an official end of the pandemic isn’t clear. I presume it’s up to the World Health Organisation to decide when it's all over. However, here in the UK, the Omicron wave continues to recede. Cases have fallen sharply since the end of March and the number of new COVID-19 infections is the lowest it’s been since last summer. The number of patients who are being admitted to hospital following infection has also been steadily decreasing, as has the number of deaths caused by the virus.
Whilst there are a total of 75 patients at James Cook who have tested positive for COVID-19, only 20 of these are deemed to be still infectious and need to be isolated. The rest have all recovered, meaning they can be looked after on regular wards. The original ‘once COVID, always COVID’ policy that was implemented at the start of the pandemic is now redundant and regular testing is used to identify patients who are no longer infectious. They can then be transferred from a red, COVID ward, to an amber, COVID-free, one.
Meanwhile, the hospital continues to look more and more like it did before the pandemic. Outpatient clinics are full again, patient visiting has returned and facemasks are no longer being worn in some non-clinical areas. Fewer and fewer members of staff are absent due to COVID infections and, occasionally, a whole day can pass without COVID even being mentioned. Of course, it's not all good news; the Accident & Emergency Department is busier than it has ever been and ward beds remain hard to come by. Congestion is a worsening problem with the timely discharge of people from hospital to social care continuing to be a challenge.
Whilst the rest of the hospital has been getting busier, Intensive Care has been getting calmer. The last few days have seen us admit fewer patients and the lull in activity has surprised everyone. We’d become so used to being either busy, very busy or stupidly-busy that we had forgotten that things do quieten down every now and then, especially during the summer.
It makes a refreshing change not to start the day scrambling to find ICU beds for elective surgical cases or worry about whether there will be enough nurses turning up for the late shift. It’s nicer still to be able to see sick patients in A&E or on the wards and admit them to the ICU straight away. It’s a relief not to have to worry about discharging your patients in the middle of the night in order to make way for newer, sicker ones.
But don’t worry, there’s no danger of us getting used to this. Such oases of calm don’t tend to last very long. Inevitably, normal service will be resumed...