Hospital in 'critical situation' as Covid patients spike demand for oxygen

An Essex hospital has reached a ‘critical situation’ due to a surge in Covid-19 patients creating high demand for oxygen, it has been reported.

Bosses at Southend Hospital are currently working to manage the situation, an internal document seen by The BBC states. Patient oxygen saturation levels should now be kept within a target range of 88 to 92%, the note stated.

The oxygen saturation range for patients with Covid-19 recommended by the National Institutes of Health is 92–96%.

It comes as the UK recorded a further 54,940 cases on Sunday, while deaths increased by 563. There have now been 81,431 UK deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test result since the pandemic began, and the number of patients with Covid in hospital is at a record high in England.

Virus cases have been surging in Essex in recent weeks, with the region now home to the third highest infection rate in the UK. Data indicates there are currently 1540.1 cases per 100,000 people, while Southend has 1234.7 cases per 100,000.

Local authorities declared a major incident in the county shortly before New Year’s Eve, amid concerns that ‘significant growing demand’ on hospitals could see them become overwhelmed.

On Sunday, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty stated that the NHS was now facing the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living memory due to the rising number of hospital admissions.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: ‘Hospitals are always busy in winter, but the NHS in some parts of the country is currently facing the most dangerous situation anyone can remember.

If the virus continues on this trajectory, hospitals will be in real difficulties, and soon. Staff-to-patient ratios – already stretched – will become unacceptable even in intensive care.’

Prof Whitty praised the public for their efforts to stop the spread of Covid and urged them to continue staying at home. He noted the hope offered by various vaccines, but he said it would be some weeks before the jabs start to reduce the number of people taken to hospital.

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