Sunderland health chiefs concerns over 'extreme pressures' on hospitals due to Covid-19 cases

Health chiefs in Sunderland have warned hospitals are facing “extreme pressures” due to Covid-19 case rates which are “far and away” the highest the city has seen.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 6:07 pm
A file image of Covid-19 lateral flow rapid antigen tests being processed. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

However they have noted to date there has not been an increase in death rates, and they are hopeful vaccinations will help ensure the Omicron variant outbreak is “less severe”.

It came as the city council health and wellbeing scrutiny committee heard on January 5 how Sunderland has seen “over 1,000 cases reported” each day this week.

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Gerry Taylor, executive director of Public Health at Sunderland City Council, said as of January 1st the Covid-19 case rate was 1,685 per 100,000 in the city, and has been rising each day.

She said: “We’ve got a very significant rapid increase in cases, by far and away the highest number of cases we have ever seen in the city.

“So far the number of deaths haven’t increased in line with the number of cases.

“The fact that the evidence so far is suggesting that Omicron is less severe and that we have a lot in place in terms of vaccination and in terms of health care for positive cases, we hope that picture will remain.”

She warned they had seen a “very significant rise” in the number of people in hospital in Sunderland with Covid-19, with the latest figure being 98, which was not “entirely dissimilar” to numbers this time last year.

However there are no patients currently in the intensive care unit, unlike this time last year.

She added: “Hopefully we’re seeing that patients aren’t as sick when they come into hospital.”

However David Chandler, chief officer and chief finance officer at NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), warned of the pressures health care services in the area and hospitals are seeing because of the case rises.

He said: “The NHS itself and the wider healthcare system is under extreme pressure at this moment in time, it’s exactly the same in Sunderland.

“What we’re seeing at this moment in time is excessive demand coming through the door. We’ve also got staff sickness and self-isolation issues.”

Ms Taylor stressed there is “still a significant gap” in the number of people yet to be vaccinated, with council and health chiefs both undertaking various schemes and urging residents to be vaccinated to help tackle the pressures.

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