Covid patients cared for in operating theatres due to high volume

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image captionNon-urgent surgery at the hospital in Stockton stopped in January

Covid patients are being cared for in operating theatres and recovery areas due to the volume of seriously ill people, a leading doctor has warned.

The University of North Tees Hospital is treating 25 intensive care patients, beyond its normal capacity of 17.

Medical director Dr Deepak Dwarakanath said aside from emergency and urgent surgery, other general operations have been stopped at the Stockton site.

"We have seen no significant drop in the number of admissions," he said.

Staff redeployed

Dr Dwarakanath said there were 20 to 30 new admissions a day, with the total number of Covid patients ranging from 175 to just over 200 for nearly two months.

It comes after he previously warned almost three times the number of people were being admitted with Covid compared to when the pandemic began.

Concern was also been raised over younger patients due to the spread of the more infectious new strain.

"The intensive care unit is extremely busy at present," he said.

"This means that our plans for surge have been activated and we are caring for patients in the recovery area of theatre and also in normal operating theatres to cope with the volume of very, very seriously ill patients."

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Staff are also being deployed to "bolster" intensive care numbers from theatres and other locations, he said.

"The staff are fantastic, they are under immense pressure, they are really rising to the sustained challenge," he added.

"All the intensive care units in all the hospitals in the North East are almost equally busy, we are all in surge and having to look after far more patients than we normally would."

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