Corona virus

Why the next few weeks will be even tougher for the NHS. #StayAtHome

The total number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the UK,  in the 2 months to April 1st was 29,500.

By April 8th, 20,000 of these had been admitted to hospital, 7,100 had died, with the balance of 2,400 having recovered/not been admitted to hospital.

This implies an average 1-2 week dwell from a case being identified, through to hospital admission.

In the week from April 1st – 8th the number of cases doubled from 29,500 to 60,733.

A likely outcome is that the number of hospital admissions will double in the next few weeks creating a significant surge for the nursing and care staff.

This could be offset by a number of factors. A proportion might never be admitted to hospital; some will recover, but the majority will die.

Previous modelling predicted an additional ~6,900 deaths in the last 2 weeks. This was based on a 78% death rate of those people testing positive.  Testing was limited to those people who were in hospital and/or who were particularly vulnerable,  Consequently the death rate was unusually high compared to the general population.

Chart from March 25th article

Using the same modelling technique then it is likely that there will be an additional 30,000 deaths in the next 2 weeks. This would offset the additional admissions.

This may be reduced by the increased capacity of critical care beds, more ventilators, and a better understanding of how to treat Covid-19. Whilst this might reduce the number of deaths, it would most likely increase the length of bed occupancy, thus increasing the demand on bed capacity.


There are still a lot of unknowns.

However we do know that the number of cases has doubled. There has been no breakthrough in treatment which will reduce the proportion that will be admitted to hospital. Fortunately the NHS have provisioned a significant increase in capacity in existing settings and through the new Nightingale hospitals.

We do know that there will be considerably more people in the NHS system than has been experienced in the last few months.

Whilst there are some very tentative signs that the number of new cases has flattened off, the risk is that the public will begin to waver with the lockdown and distancing disciplines. This will result in the daily number of cases increasing and creating further challenges for the NHS.

In the absence of a vaccine the only way to avoid the bed capacity being breached is by not catching the virus in the first place. Hopefully we all know what to do now!





Categories: Corona virus

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