Great Britain

NHS CRISIS: Seriously ill Covid patients transferred as UK records world's worst statistic

Patrick Vallance shuts down Hancock's coronavirus variant claim

According to intensive care bed tracking statistics, there were 444 transfers of critically-ill Covid-19 patients in the first 14 days of January alone. This is in contrast to December, when there were 436 transfers for the entire month.

The only month that has seen a higher number of critical care transfers is April 2020, when 821 patients were moved between hospitals.

If this month keeps up its current rate of transfers, January is expected to overtake last April’s figures.

The data was collected by the Intensive Care National Audit Research Centre and obtained by medical news outlet HSJ.

NHS ambulance staff

Patients are being transferred between NHS regions, which has been described as unusual (Image: Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media / Getty)

It comes as the NHS is forced to deal with the UK recorded the world's worst daily death rate for coronavirus related fatalities, Oxford University research showed.

On average, 935 people died every day in the UK from the week commencing January 11 after testing positive for coronavirus.

Patients are transferred between hospitals in order to receive more specialist care or to ease pressures off of over-stretched intensive care facilities.

READ: Covid payment could see everyone with coronavirus in England receive £500 under new scheme

Ambulances outside NHS Nightingale in London

London's NHS Nightingale hospital has re-opened to take in non-Covid patients (Image: Hollie Adams / Getty)

Analysts say it is not unusual for ICU patients to be transferred between hospitals within one particular NHS region.

However, a large number are now being moved larger distances than this as critical care units hit capacity.

Some patients based in the South East and London have been sent as far as Yorkshire and the North East.

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Coronavirus jab

The UK's rapid rollout of Covid-19 vaccines is ongoing (Image: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty)

Lesley Durham, director of the North of England Critical Care Network, said in a statement: “Whilst not ideal, it is correct to ensure that every person, regardless of location, has access to a critical care bed if they require one.”

Others have spoken of the difficulty in transferring critically-ill patients across the country.

Dr Uwe Franke, intensive care lead at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, told the BBC the hospital swaps are “quite a challenge”.

World Health Organisation contributors

World Health Organisation contributors (Image: EXPRESS)

He said: “There is a difficulty in this; we know that Covid patients are incredibly ill, they are dependent on breathing machines, they are dependent on other machines that need organ support.”

Meanwhile London’s NHS Nightingale hospital has reopened for the first time since May last year and has been treating patients.

Coronavirus sign at bus stop

England's third national lockdown remains in place to help control cases (Image: Niklas Halle'n / AFP / Getty)

Latest official data shows there were 33,552 new cases of coronavirus recorded on January 23, with 1,348 daily deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

It brings new cases over the past seven days to 260,098 – a drop of 23.5 percent from the seven days prior.

In addition, at least 5,861,351 people have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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