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Hospitals in Greater Manchester forced to provide extra critical care beds as NHS pressure grows

Hospitals in Greater Manchester forced to provide extra critical care beds as NHS pressure grows
Increasing demand on health service comes as waiting lists across country could hit 13 million in coming months

Hospitals in Greater Manchester are reportedly having to provide extra critical care beds amid a surge in patients.

The Manchester Evening News reported that hospitals in the city were being forced to increase capacity as they struggled to cope with an increase in the number of Covid-related admissions.

Such was the strain on the area’s health system over the weekend that officials approached hospital trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside for additional help, the paper reported.

Ambulances have been seen queueing outside North Manchester General’s A&E, Fairfield General in Bury and Wythenshawe Hospital in recent days.

The Independent contacted the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership for comment. A spokesperson for the health body told the MEN that the “number of people attending emergency departments across Greater Manchester has seen a significant increase in recent weeks” and that assistance from hospitals in other parts of the country was “part of our usual processes”.

On Sunday, the new health secretary, Sajid Javid, warned about a backlog of appointments which could see NHS waiting lists across the country rocket to 13 million in the coming months.

NHS trusts are facing the combined hit of Covid cases rising again, the backlog for other treatments including cancer checks and heart disease, and staff shortages due to workers having to self-isolate if they are ‘pinged’ by the Covid app.

NHS Providers, the membership organisation for NHS trusts in England, warned that up to a fifth of staff could be absent from one NHS trust in just three weeks from now, potentially leading to the cancellation of as many as 900 operations.

The number of Covid patients in Manchester hospitals are reported to stand at around half the 2020 peak.

Last month, The Independent reported that doctors and nurses working at Manchester’s Royal Infirmary were told the hospital had declared a major incident amid mounting pressures in its emergency department, long waits for patients and fears of a shortage of staff and beds.

Multiple sources at the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, from different departments, said staff were told the declaration was made, but then rapidly reduced to an internal incident to “avoid bad press”.

The trust denied declaring any incident but has taken what is known as “business continuity measures” which is part of NHS England’s incident response and is designed to ensure hospitals can maintain patient services in the face of increased demand.

It came after research found that Greater Manchester’s Covid death rate was 25 per cent higher than the rest of England during the pandemic.