Hospitals ‘turning the corner’ with coronavirus cases
The NHS has “started to turn the corner” as the number of people with Covid-19 in hospital is falling, a senior health official has said.
But Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said it is “critical” that infection rates remain low.
He warned that the health service is coming into its busiest time of year when it usually has a large number of respiratory illnesses to deal with as well as more “slips, trips and falls”.
Prof Powis also urged people to “act sensibly” over the Christmas period.
He said that when Covid-19 infection rates increase, hospital admissions start to rise two weeks later, “as sure as night follows day”.
But he added that the health service was beginning to see the effects of the month-long national lockdown in England.
He told a Downing Street press conference: “We have the evidence that infection rates are now falling and have been falling during this period of lockdown.
“And we are now just beginning to see that translate through into hospital admissions, which have been falling, and into the overall number of people in hospital which in recent days has started to turn the corner, and is now falling.”
He said there was some regional variation in the figures and the effects are only just beginning to be seen, adding: “It will be the next week or two as we see those full effects translate through.”
In response to a question from the PA news agency, Prof Powis added: “(I want to) reiterate the importance, as the NHS goes into its busiest time of year, to ensure that infection rates are low and falling.
“Because as sure as night follows day, two weeks later (after a rise in infections), unfortunately more hospital admissions, more people in hospital, more pressure on NHS services and of course, unfortunately, more deaths.
“And increasingly, as we understand conditions such as long Covid, more long-term health problems for people.
“So the key, as always, is to get infection rates down and to ensure that they continue to stay down.”
Prof Powis said it is “crucial” that hospital admissions fall, adding: “We’re going into winter, the NHS’s busiest time.
“We are continuing all the elective work that we do, and trying to catch up on the backlog that was caused by the pandemic over the spring, so it’s crucial that we don’t have so many patients in our hospitals that we cannot do that work.
“And that’s why it’s important that numbers continue to fall, and of course that’s why it’s important that infection rates fall.
“And of course everybody in the NHS is extremely grateful that the public is complying with those measures, because that is how we can all support the NHS in its work.”
On more socialising over the festive period, Prof Powis added: “Now, clearly, Christmas is a special time.
“But the NHS always asked people to be sensible over Christmas, and we’re confident again that people will act sensibly once again over Christmas – they will use the changing restrictions sensibly, and we will go into the new year hopefully with infection rates staying down and falling, therefore the pressure coming off of the NHS at that critical time of year.”
On November 29 there were 12,837 Covid-19 patients in English hospitals.
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