WHISTON Hospital is now treating more Covid patients than any point in the pandemic, as exhausted staff deal with the consequences of skyrocketing infection rates across the region.

As of today (Wednesday), 168 inpatients are being treated for the effects of Covid-19 at the hospital, according to figures released by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

In April 2020, when the hospital was worst hit by Covid, the highest number of inpatients was 153.

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It comes as the UK records its highest daily Covid-19 death toll, surpassing 100,000.

Figures show 1,564 more deaths have been reported in the UK in the last 24 hours — the highest single-day death toll recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic. 

Whiston Hospital's own figures have been released by the trust after an entire ward of new Covid patients were admitted on Tuesday.

The trust also reached its own grim milestone this week, surpassing 400 Covid deaths, as they become increasingly more frequent.

Intensive care capacity has already been expanded at Whiston Hospital to treat the increasing number of Covid-19 patients requiring the highest levels of care.

And now NHS bosses are desperately appealing to the public in helping to reduce the surging infection rates, which are threatening to cripple Whiston Hospital.

St Helens Star: Whiston Hospital has seen a massive influx in Covid patientsWhiston Hospital has seen a massive influx in Covid patients

Prof Rowan Pritchard-Jones, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s medical director, said: “We are now treating more patients for Covid-19 than we have done at any time during the pandemic, and we are extremely concerned about the rate at which we are seeing patients admitted to our hospital.

“Yesterday alone, 29 patients were admitted to our hospital needing treatment for the effects of the virus.

“To put that in context, our average ward holds 33 patients, so in just one day we have admitted almost a ward of patients.

“We have also had to expand our intensive care capacity to accommodate the increasing numbers of patients requiring the highest levels of care.”

“Managing these levels of activity is putting a huge strain on our resources and on our staff.

“We have plans in place to look after every patient that might need us, but if this significant increase in Covid positive patients continues, it may affect the care we provide to other groups of patients.”

The dire situation comes around a month after infection rates began rising across the region, which is now believed to be driven by the new Covid variant.

In the seven days up to January 7, the infection rate across the Liverpool City Region doubled to 1,016 cases per 100,000 population.

The situation is particularly severe in Knowsley, which saw its infection rate rocket to the highest in England in recent days.

Halton is also among the worst in the country.

St Helens Star: Intensive care capacity has been increased at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in response to the increasing number of Covid-19 patients Intensive care capacity has been increased at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in response to the increasing number of Covid-19 patients

In St Helens, there were 1564 new cases of Covid-19 in the borough in the week to January 8, more than double the total of 706 recorded a week earlier.

This means the weekly rate in St Helens surged from 391.0 per 100,000 to 866.1.

The rising infection rates have led to a rapid increase in admissions at Whiston Hospital, having seen them reduce to 29 in the week before Christmas.

It is still unclear whether this new wave is the result of relaxation measures over the Christmas period, or whether the impact of that is still to come.

Regardless, what is crystal clear is that it will now require a massive effort from the public to give our NHS heroes and the people they are caring for a fighting chance.

Prof Rowan Pritchard-Jones said: “We need our local community to help us stop this rapid rate of infection and we need them to be as safety conscious as they were in wave one.

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“The Liverpool City Region has shown before that it can take on this virus and reduce the rates dramatically, and we need our population to do it again.

“Our staff have been under considerable pressure for the past 11 months, but they come into work each and every day, putting their own fears aside, to care for our patients with the same courage and compassion they have shown since March.

“They are everyday heroes, and we need everyone to support them and get this virus under control.”