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  • Writer's pictureRichard Cree

New Year

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

4th January 2022

UK COVID Deaths – Daily 48 / 7-Day average 130

Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 148,941

Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 172,657 (up to 17 Dec)

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 725

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 106

James Cook Critical Care

COVID cases – 6 (3 ventilated)

Non-COVID cases – 48 (21 ventilated)


Whilst Christmas was mercifully quiet, New Year turned out to be nothing of the sort. The Bank Holiday weekend was pretty hectic at the hospital and the Accident & Emergency Department seemed to bear the brunt of it.


New Year’s Eve is never a quiet time in A&E as I’m sure you can imagine, but this year proved to be worse than usual. Alongside the usual deluge of alcohol-related problems, there were many patients with medical and surgical issues who needed admission to the ward. Unfortunately, given how full the hospital was, finding an empty bed proved harder and harder as the night dragged on. The dawn brought some respite but, as New Year’s Day continued, more and more patients turned up seeking help.


The North East Ambulance Service has had a particularly tough time over the last few days. They have been hit hard by Omicron-related staff sickness and have struggled to maintain their service at times. By New Year’s Day evening, there was a long queue of ambulances outside the hospital and the corridors were full of patients on trolleys. Everywhere you looked, you would find frustrated paramedics who were desperate to hand-over their patients and get back out on the roads.


Staff sickness is becoming an ever-increasing problem for all of us. Nearly 6% of the hospital’s staff are currently off work thanks to Omicron and this is making everything much, much harder. An increasing number of operations and routine procedures are being cancelled. Some of the wards barely have enough staff to look after their patients adequately. Whilst paying a visit to the COVID wards over the weekend I was struck by how quiet they seemed. At first glance, it felt like I had set foot upon the Mary Celeste. However, I soon saw that, whilst the corridors were empty, there was plenty going on in the bays and side-rooms as the skeleton-crew of frazzled nursing staff did their very best to look after everyone.


Up on ICU, we are faring much better. There seems no doubt now that our Omicron patients are less sick. We have far fewer patients on CPAP and those that do become very unwell seem much less likely to require ventilation. We still have more than our fair share of non-COVID patients and are continuing to operate very close to maximum capacity. Many of our staff have also fallen prey to Omicron but we are managing to cover most of the vacant shifts and we are coping reasonably well so far.


That’s not to say that it’s all peace and quiet. I have spent the last few days covering the COVID ICU and a lot of my time has been spent fretting about our horribly unwell, young COVID patient. His illness is almost certainly a result of infection with the Delta variant and he is one of the sickest patients I have seen since the start of the pandemic. Looking after him has been very challenging and we have spent the whole weekend doing our best to keep him alive. We have succeeded and his situation is, perhaps, even a little better. However, we remain very worried about him. We’re COVID veterans now and we know, all too well, what an unpredictable disease it can be. At this stage of the illness, you can never let your guard down or allow yourself the luxury of believing the worst might be over.


Yesterday, Nicky, the kids and I went for a Bank Holiday hike up on the Moors. It was a beautiful afternoon and, as we walked, we mulled over our New Year resolutions. My eldest daughter has vowed to do her homework as soon as she gets it. My son is going to try harder to chew with his mouth closed and my youngest daughter is going to spend less time on her iPad and more time outside. Nicky and I said we would try to be a bit healthier this year. You know, the usual: eat and drink less and sleep more. Hardly original but laudable, none the less. Unfortunately, given the current situation at work, I fear that our good intentions won’t last very long.


My colleague Steve summed it up nicely at the weekend - “Dry January? Yeah, right…”



6,969 views21 comments

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21 Comments


sinneyon
Jan 07, 2022

Hi Richard,


I really, really hope that your young fellow manages to make a full recovery - please remind him that it is possible and that he is in exceptionally skilled hands. I hope that you and the rest of your staff are okay - my thoughts will always be with you all!

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Jan 09, 2022
Replying to

Thank you! Cheers, Richard

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musaaskari
Jan 05, 2022

Richard, Thank you for this post. So important your voice and that of your colleagues is placed on the public record at this pivotal time. I hope the young patient in your post undertakes a full recover. Musa Askari

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Jan 06, 2022
Replying to

Thank you, Musa Cheers, Richard

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janet
Jan 05, 2022

Happy new year Richard and all your hard working staff,

if you had a magic wand and could mend the NHS (not that all departments are broken 😞) where would you start. Would it be a case of just more money needed or better management of the money that the NHS has. Or would it be get the nation healthier mentally and physically so as not to put that pressure on A&E constantly. I read an answer in your last blog where you said that if the public didn’t make bad life style choices you would be out of a job. Do you feel over the last few years the balance has tipped and there’s too many sick people now…

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Jan 09, 2022
Replying to

Me too! Thanks Janet

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ramurphy7
Jan 05, 2022

Thank you Richard for your most recent update. We know that New Year is always extremely busy in AandE normally but this year must have been a topper with extra staff sickness and absence , and a large rise in covid cases.One can feel heartily sorry for Ambulance staff also ,having to wait around to hand patients over knowing there are other cases waiting for their attendance.Well done to all of you , we are indebted to all NHS staff for your valiant efforts.

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Jan 05, 2022
Replying to

Thank you. I have great sympathy for my colleagues in A&E. The next month is going to be a very, very busy one for them. Cheers, Richard

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peter.nms
Jan 05, 2022

Hi Richard,


Thank you for the update. I see that admissions are around 2k a day and people in hospital is increasing at about 1k as day, 17k now, which is 50% almost of last January peak.


I feel for you all and it's a huge concern for the loved ones of patients admitted too.


My girlfriend was rushed into A&E at Darlington yesterday afternoon. We haven't had Covid due to shielding since Feb 2020. I feel I have sent her to be infected with Omicron but she was deteriotaing fast so I had no option but to call 999.


I am not allowed in due to new Covid rules which I understand but it is very worrying to say…


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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Jan 10, 2022
Replying to

Thanks Peter. Glad to hear that she’s made a quick recovery and will be home soon. And thank you for your vote of confidence! We will and do our very best to look after them. Cheers, Richard

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