"Significant rise" in Covid hospitalisations across Preston, Chorley and South Ribble
There are around 100 more people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Lancashire than the latest published figures suggest - because real-time data for individual NHS trusts is not routinely being released.
Regional NHS bosses have opted not to provide a daily update of the situation in each of Lancashire’s hospitals – instead preferring to publish a total figure for the number of Covid inpatients across the wider region on a weekly basis. The statistics also lag by more than week.
However, the Lancashire Post has obtained more recent figures for the trust that runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.
They show that, on 16th October, there were 89 Covid-positive patients being looked after within Lancashire Teaching Hospitals (LTH) – 12 of whom were in critical care.
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It is understood that is still some way short of the numbers in late April, when at one point there were 135 coronavirus inpatients at the trust.
But the latest statistics are a sharp increase on time-delayed NHS England figures which reflect daily coronavirus admissions on an individual hospital trust level – and reveal that LTH had 48 patients across the week to 11th October who tested positive before or shortly after admission.
However, that data is also being published on a weekly basis and again includes a lag – and so at certain points can be up to 10 days out of date. It also does not provide a definitive total of the number of Covid patients on any given day.
A spokesperson for LTH said that there had been a “significant rise” in coronavirus admissions in recent weeks, but did not confirm the current total.
The trust also stressed that NHS services were still available for people with problems unrelated to Covid.
“We have planned for this and it’s important to highlight that our hospitals are still here for you. Please still seek help if you need it, or continue with any treatment that is underway or planned. We have lots of measures in place to make sure that this is safe for you.
“We would encourage everyone to adhere closely to all local restrictions, and follow national guidance to reduce the spread of coronavirus to keep themselves and the community safe.”
The regional Covid admissions tally can be found in the Lancashire Resilience Forum’s seven-day bulletin of coronavirus statistics.
The latest version of the document contains a figure for the week to 6th October. It states that 209 people were in hospital with coronavirus across Lancashire and South Cumbria at that point – both new admissions and people who had tested positive after arrival.
However, in a message on social media last week, the chair of Lancashire’s health and wellbeing board said that just over 300 people were hospitalised with the virus.
County Cllr Shaun Turner – who is also Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing - told the LDRS that the figure he quoted was from 13th October.
In his message, he noted that there were 496 beds occupied by Covid patients across the region at the peak of the first wave in spring – and that the pressure had required the cancellation of many pre-planned procedures.
“A backlog built up and, post-original lockdown, a recovery plan was drawn up to deal with [it]. It’s important to point out that that recovery plan was based on the infamous R-value being under 1 - it’s sitting now in Lancashire at between 1.4 and 1.8 - and infection rates are rising rapidly.
“That recovery plan lies in tatters,” County Cllr Turner wrote.
Posting just before Lancashire’s Tier 3 lockdown was announced, he added: “We really need to return to the days of taking everything so seriously - hands, face, space and [then] some.
“Please use hand gels and masks when entering shops, do not mix with other households and, most of all, understand this is not forever.
“Test and trace works, but only with lower infection rates - those rates have surpassed this now.”
The LDRS understands that an agreement between Lancashire’s NHS trusts to offer each other mutual assistance during the pandemic - to ensure sufficient capacity across the patch - may have influenced the decision to publish coronavirus data regionally rather than locally.
The Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care system (ICS) – the regional partnership of health and social care organisations leading the work on mutual aid for the county's hospitals - was approached for comment on trust-level reporting of Covid admissions.