CORONAVIRUS admissions at Whiston Hospital are showing signs of slowing, although staff remain under considerable pressure as they battle the second wave while trying to care for non-Covid patients.

The latest figures published by NHS England shows that 122 confirmed coronavirus patients being cared for within St Helens and Knowsley NHS Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, as of October 27.

This is down from 126 the previous week.

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The data also shows a significant drop in new coronavirus cases last week. Between October 19 and 25, which is the latest data available, there were 72 new cases.

Between October 12 and 18 there had been 122 patients admitted in the previous 24 hours for the first time with Covid-19. This includes patients diagnosed in hospital in the previous 24 hours.

Whiston’s intensive care unit is also continuing to feel the strain, with seven people taking up mechanical ventilation beds as of October 27.

The previous week there was also seven, although at one point during the week this raised to 10.

Whiston Hospital has 14 critical care beds.

During the first wave, NHS hospitals in England were told to suspend all non-urgent elective surgery for at least three months to allow staff to focus on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

This drastic action has not been taken this time round – something hospital chiefs have repeatedly said they do not want to do – which has made fending off the second wave all the more difficult.

Attendances at Whiston Hospital’s emergency department have risen back to pre-Covid levels.

This week, executive St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s board were told that Whiston’s A&E department was averaging 307 attendances a day.

Ann Marr, the trust’s chief executive, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that these additional factors are placing a “great deal of pressure on all services”.

“Although there are some signs that the number of patients needing admission due to Covid-19 is not increasing as rapidly as in previous weeks, this has not reduced significantly enough to make a difference to the number of patients needing our care and our bed occupancy remains extremely high,” Ms Marr said.

“Attendances to the hospitals are back to their normal levels and we are managing both emergency and planned admissions alongside the extra demand created by Covid.

“This puts a great deal of pressure on all services, including the intensive care unit, where occupancy remains very high.”

As admissions have surged at Whiston Hospital in recent weeks, so has the number of fatalities.

According to the latest NHS England figures, 22 people who tested positive for Covid-19 died while being cared for by the trust between October 22 to 29.

The previous week, between October 16 and 22, a total of 29 coronavirus deaths occurred at the trust.

In the past 48 hours, Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s has reported 10 coronavirus deaths.

This now means that since the start pandemic in March, the trust has recorded 282 coronavirus deaths.

With infection rates still high throughout the region, Ms Marr has urged the public to take “every precaution” to keep everyone safe.

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Ms Marr: “I would urge members of our community to continue to take every precaution to protect themselves, their family and friends from this deadly virus and help us to be able to provide the necessary care to all our patients.

“It is also important that people do not put off receiving care should they need it.

“If you develop any worrying symptoms or require emergency care, please seek medical assistance from your GP or the hospital as appropriate.”