Sheffield hospitals are 'very squeezed' and the exit strategy remains unclear, says city's health chief

Sheffield hospitals are becoming very busy and may get to a point where they need to start cancelling planned treatment, says the city's health chief.

Friday, 6th November 2020, 12:30 pm

Director of public health Greg Fell says hospitals were one of the principal reasons for the latest lockdown.

He told a meeting of full council: "There are more people in hospital who have a positive test. Many are admitted because of a heart attack or road accident and are then diagnosed with Covid so they have it but they are not poorly with it.

"But the number of people on ventilated and oxygenated beds is increasing. And the NHS is continuing to deliver routine normal elective care because there are consequences of not doing so.

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Greg Fell - Director for Public Health Sheffield.

"Therefore hospitals are becoming very squeezed. Sheffield hospitals are not in the same position as you've seen in other parts of the country but they are becoming very busy.

"Frontline hospital doctors and GPs are very clearly telling me that the NHS is becoming very busy indeed so don't underestimate the importance of this.

"There's a possibility at some point the NHS may need to reprioritise planned care but they are trying not to do that because of the consequences that go with it."

Mr Fell said since early September, Covid deaths were being recorded on death certificates after a long period with zero per day and he expected that "steady trickle" to rise.

Giving steroids to patients with severe Covid has reduced mortality by 30 per cent and while that saves lives, it also adds pressure to hospitals as people stay in longer to recover.

He added: "I'm expecting hospital activity to be going on for a good few weeks to come yet. And that becomes more problematic as we get further into winter because hospitals are usually really busy then. There are on knock-on consequences for social care too."

Mr Fell said there was no easy way to combat the virus and reopen society.

"All routes out are difficult. All of the options before us are shades of least bad. And the exit strategy remains unclear.

"We did some work in South Yorkshire on the exit strategy from Tier 3 but ultimately, it's a government decision and their position is unclear.

"Vaccination may not be as magic as we all want it to be and it will take us some considerable time to get us all fully vaccinated."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.