Patients in critical care hit record levels at start of month

Medical staff in respiratory emergency department. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Covid patient numbers are falling overall but there are still very high numbers in critical care - Credit: PA

The number of patients in critical care beds in Norfolk hospitals hit record levels for the third week in a row at the start of February, despite the number of Covid patients falling.

NHS data shows all three Norfolk hospitals have more than double the amount of critical care beds occupied compared to last winter.

And in the week leading up to February 9, the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) saw the biggest rise in critical care bed pressure in the country, reaching 142pc of last winter’s average, up from 75pc the week before.

But pressure eased at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) over the same week, dropping from 309pc of last year’s average to 162pc, while the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) remained on 115pc occupancy over the same period.

Data shows no free critical care beds at the JPUH on February 7, two of 16 free at the QEH and 38 of 80 free at the NNUH.

Infection Control nurse looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Critical care numbers were at record levels in Norfolk in February - Credit: PA

It is the third time in February that the JPUH has run out of critical care beds.

The three hospitals previously said arrangements are in place to share resources and beds.

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Norfolk as a whole hit a record 90 critical care beds occupied on February 2, the week before it was 85. It has since fallen to 68 by February 7. 

But despite the worrying critical care beds situation, the number of Covid patients is still going down, and reached 455 in Norfolk on February 9, down from 562 the week before.


Another encouraging sign is the falling number of new virus patients being admitted to hospitals. The weekly total of new admissions fell from 355 in the seven days to January 31 to 249 in the week leading up to February 7.

Infection rates in Norfolk are now below 200 per 100,000 people, with the rate recorded at 194 on February 6. The last time it was below 200 was on December 12.

Government data also suggests the R number - which tracks the average number of infections caused by a person with Covid – remains at 0.7 and 0.9 in the East of England region. Anything below 1 should see a fall in cases over time.

Covid patients now make up less than a fifth of all patients at the NNUH and the JPUH, and just under a third at the QEH.

The NNUH and JPUH were at 90pc and 91pc capacity by February 9, compared to 89pc and 94pc respectively.

At the NNUH there were 132 Covid patients on that date, down from 202 the week before, while the JPUH had 89 virus patients, compared to 79 the week before.

The QEH had the most Covid patients as of February 9, with 167 in beds - 29pc of its capacity. Overall, 84pc of beds are occupied there.

At West Suffolk Hospital, there were 47 virus patients in beds, down from 91 the week before.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust – the region’s mental health trust – reported 4 Covid patients in beds, down from 15 last week.

And the Norfolk and Suffolk Community Health and Care Trust has seen the number drop slightly from 77 to 63.

Our maps below show the pressure the virus is putting on hospitals across the region.

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