As I stroll by the doorways of ward 23, I’m struck by a way of deja vu.
Bay after bay, mattress after mattress, is stuffed with sick, generally very sick, sufferers.
They are largely aged and look frail. Most have flu, some have COVID, and others have respiratory infections.
The actually unfortunate ones have a mixture of two or extra of those viruses. The scene brings again recollections of my visits to hospitals filled with COVID sufferers on the top of the pandemic.
One of the ward’s 23 sufferers is John Greenwood. He’s 92 years previous. He lives alone. His spouse is in a nursing house.
John woke within the early hours of Sunday morning, barely in a position to transfer. He had been struck down by flu.
John’s son rushed him to The Royal Preston Hospital. They couldn’t danger ready two hours for an ambulance.
“When I was young, the way people talked, I just thought people would get healthier and healthier and hospitals won’t be required as much,” John tells me from his hospital mattress.
“And it’s just gone the opposite.”
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‘I’ve by no means seen something like this’
John has made good progress in his restoration, however is clearly nonetheless not absolutely over his an infection.
“When I came in I couldn’t take a drink, I couldn’t do anything, and I’m getting slightly stronger every day,” he says.
“I couldn’t even use my mobile phone. I still feel very weak.
“I’ve needed to have a mattress bathtub this morning, they stated ‘are you able to do it your self?'”
The ward is operating at 100% capacity, and it has been for some time.
As soon as a bed is vacant, it is filled again with a waiting patient. The pressure is relentless.
Professor Mohammed Munavvar says he has never seen a winter like it.
“I’ve been right here as a respiratory guide on this ward on this hospital for twenty-four years, and I’ve by no means, ever seen something like this earlier than,” he says.
Ambulance response times worst on record
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One of the worst winters ever for the NHS
Professor Munavvar is one in all northwest England’s most senior respiratory consultants.
His experience helped this hospital to navigate by the height of the pandemic. His talent is being examined once more because the NHS buckles underneath one of many worst winters ever.
But this winter, he says, is the worst he is ever seen.
“You’ve got a COVID bay, you’ve got influenza patients, you’ve got COVID again after that,” he says, and worries that this stress will impression hospital ready lists.
“If we focus our time and efforts on our acute hospital then we have less time to do our other jobs, which are seeing patients in the clinics, doing procedures and endoscopy units in theatres,” he says.
“So already with the two-three year backlog that has developed thanks to COVID, we were trying to play catch-up, we were trying to clear some of that backlog, now this will set us back again.”
Strikes bringing much more woe
And because of this the small constructive from this month’s NHS efficiency figures, of the elective ready record for England falling from 7.21 million to 7.19 million, is unlikely to be repeated subsequent month.
The knowledge represents November final yr, forward of the flu season and earlier than the commercial motion by well being employees.
More dates are set to be introduced by ambulance employees, and the British Medical Association, the medical doctors’ union, is balloting its members on strike motion.
Ambulance response occasions and waking occasions for treating proceed to climb. This is due to rising demand and the shortcoming of ambulances to discharge their sufferers as a result of there may be little or no capability contained in the hospital.
This is basically because of the delayed discharge of sufferers who don’t have any social care package deal in place.
The authorities’s plan to purchase up care house beds has been criticised by some well being leaders as too little too late.
In the brief time period no less than, it’s hoped it can create some capability to ease the stress.
There are additionally indications that COVID and flu infections are starting to fall.
This has occurred for 2 consecutive weeks now, so earlier fears that the figures may not give the true image due to the Christmas holidays may be unfounded. Still, it’s too early to say for certain.
Ward 23 is full and more likely to stay so for quite a few weeks to return.