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Covid-19: 'Dramatic' rise in patients in Dorset hospitals

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image captionProf Alastair Hutchison said Dorset County Hospital could "start to struggle" in future

The number of patients with Covid-19 in Dorset hospitals has risen dramatically in the last two weeks, a hospital chief medical officer has said.

Prof Alastair Hutchison said Dorset County Hospital would "start to struggle" if the trend continues.

He said patient numbers had risen from single figures at Christmas to "nearly 90" at the last count.

Hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole said their patients had increased from 80 to more than 350 over the same period.

Dorset County Hospital has declared a level three Operational Pressures (OPEL) alert while hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole are at the highest level, four, denoting potential for patient care to be compromised.

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image captionThe Royal Bournemouth Hospital has declared the highest level of operational alert

Prof Hutchison said his hospital in Dorchester was coping with the "dramatic jump" in patient numbers.

He said: "Our intensive care unit is now beyond full so we've had to find extra beds in intensive care and that's worrying.

"We are only using 20% of our beds for Covid-positive patients so we can still carry on accommodating more."

The hospital has doubled its number of intensive care beds and has worked to find nurses to staff them, he added.

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Trust, which covers Bournemouth and Poole, said it was planning for a further influx of Covid patients.

It said: "We are ensuring we have enough capacity for expanding our intensive care unit... and to ensure we have enough stock and supplies.

"As our hospitals have recently merged, our two acutes are able to support each other in a much more coordinated way."

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