CORONAVIRUS admissions are beginning to rise at Whiston Hospital, its medical director has revealed as he urged people “do the right thing”.

The Government has today announced new lockdown measures in Merseyside, as well as Warrington, Halton, and parts Lancashire, following a surge in Covid-19 cases across the region.

In St Helens and Knowsley, the infection rate has continued to soar to alarming levels over the past week.

READ > Here are the new rules introduced in St Helens to tackle the spread of Covid-19

Whiston Hospital, which serves both areas, is also now beginning to feel the pinch after seeing admissions and deaths level out in recent months, with the last coronavirus-related death occurring on August 3.

Worryingly, one of these patients has become so unwell they have had to be transferred to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

“We’ve felt a real shift in it in the last week or so, admissions are definitely making a jump, and even bringing patients into Intensive Care who are really sick,” said Rowan Pritchard Jones, medical director at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

“And the reality is I and the team here will provide all of that are because that’s what these patients need, but we could really do with making sure they don’t have to come into hospital.

“We could do with making sure these infections are not being passed on out in the community.

“Because whilst it might be a lot of younger members of the community out there it will end up passing on to vulnerable people who are already fatigued and scared of all of this.

“And when that infection invariably reaches that more vulnerable community a significant rise for me will turn into a huge leap.”

St Helens Star: Whiston Hospital has outstanding outpatients and diagnostic imaging services

Mr Pritchard Jones has pleaded with the public to dig deep and help protect their communities and the NHS once more, so hospitals can continue to provide the cancer care that’s now “so desperately needed”.

“It’s hugely worrying,” Mr Pritchard Jones said.

“Just when you feel you’re making inroads for some of the most vulnerable patients with cancers for example, that is threatened because people are complacent out there, and aren’t thinking in the fantastic way that they did, because they’re tired of it.

“I need them actually to take a big deep breath and do the right thing for themselves and their families.”

Following the national lockdown in March, urgent cancer referrals plummeted in St Helens.

Non-urgent operations for cancer patients were also put on hold to free up capacity, as the hospital turned into a battleground against Covid-19.

In recent months, much work and discussion has gone into restoring these vital services, but this is now at risk as the pandemic runs rampant through our communities.

Mr Pritchard Jones said: “As a cancer surgeon I’ve been doing some of my most challenging operations ever over the last few weeks, because people have done what the NHS asked them to do, they stayed home and they’ve protected the NHS, and they have presented later.

“It’s been a challenge and one we’ve tackled, and we’ve provided great care for those patients but goodness me it’s been a challenge.

“And what I never want to see us having to do is dismantle again all that we’ve put together to look after such vulnerable patients and all because our community felt that this didn’t matter anymore.

“It really, really does.”

St Helens Star: Rowan Pritchard Jones, medical director at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust,Rowan Pritchard Jones, medical director at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust,

Mr Pritchard Jones said the trust has robust plans in place in preparation for the second wave that is now threatening to take hold.

He said the trust has learnt from its experiences last time round and is ready to push the button – but this is something he does not want to have to do.

Mr Pritchard Jones said: “We, as you would expect of us, have the most detailed plans imaginable because we’ve learnt from how quickly we had to change the first time round.

“And so those plans are on everybody’s desks and we’ve got real clarity of checkpoints that would change the way we consider A&E, checkpoints that would change the way intensive care is set up, or how respiratory care is delivered and checkpoints where we would have to stop doing some of the urgent cancer operations where we need to provide care for some of the Covid patients in different parts if the hospital.

“We’ve got all of that detail.

“And I don’t want to have to push the button to start changing these services when they are so critical at the minute to our current patients.”

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