Birmingham hospital trust caring for more than 1,000 Covid patients

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image copyrightReuters
image captionThe Birmingham trust currently has 191 patients in intensive care

The West Midlands is facing the highest rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England, according to NHS figures.

GPs across the region are being asked to volunteer at acute hospitals in a bid to ease pressure on staff.

University Hospitals Birmingham, the biggest trust of its kind in England, said it was looking after 1,013 Covid-19 patients as of Friday morning.

Last week, the trust redeployed 200 staff to intensive care units (ICU) amid fears they could be overwhelmed.

Since then the number of Covid patients in ICU have gone up from 125 to 191.

The total number of patients in hospital with Covid-19, including those on intensive care wards, has also gone up by more than 100 in less than a week.

The trust reported earlier in the week it was one of 10 across the country that had no spare adult critical care beds.

image copyrightReuters
image captionBirmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital has one of the largest intensive care capacities in the whole country

A regional health leader told a Covid-19 briefing on Friday because of the "unprecedented demand" GPs in the region had now been asked to volunteer to work at acute hospitals.

Speaking on behalf of primary care providers in the region, Dr Sarah Raistrick, chair of Coventry and Rugby and Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said GPs who had recent skills within hospitals were "being put to use on a voluntary basis".

'Herculean efforts'

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has also started admitting coronavirus patients to Solihull Hospital.

The site had stopped taking Covid-19 cases in May so elective surgery could continue, but recently announced it was pausing this as pressure mounted on wards across Birmingham.

A spokesperson for UHB said it had "tried and tested" plans to manage pressure from both coronavirus and winter demands, including mutual aid practices whereby hospitals work together to manage admissions.

"We are very grateful to all individuals, hospitals and services for their support at this time," the statement added.

The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, told the regional coronavirus briefing on Friday hospital trusts across the region were facing an "extremely challenging" situation.

"Every patient is still getting the care that they need," he added, "but that is only because of absolutely herculean efforts on behalf of all of the staff."

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