The number of Covid patients at Manchester hospitals has ‘stabilised’, says NHS boss

Hospital bosses say there has also been an easing of the number of NHS staff off sick due to Covid.

The number of patients with Covid in Manchester’s hospitals has ‘stabilised’.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), which runs 10 hospitals in the city, has seen a ‘significant increase’ in Covid patients occupying its beds.

The number of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients is approximately 85 % of the level it was during the peak of the first wave of the pandemic – but this does not include those in critical care which has remained stable.

Hospitals across Greater Manchester cancelled appointments last week as MFT paused some elective care to cope with the increase in Covid admissions.

But group director of operations David Furnival told the trust’s board at a meeting on Monday that the situation has ‘stabilised’ in recent days.

Sickness absence among staff has also stabilised, he said, and the number of employees off work due to Covid has actually dropped over the last five days.

Staff have been under pressure with colleagues off absent Credit: Shutterstock

He said: “We absolutely have our focus on maintaining patient safety, the patient experience and the support and wellbeing for our staff.

“We are really being driven by the data. We’re following what the data tells us and we’re reacting accordingly with really well-established escalation plans at a hospital level that we are implementing fully.”

As the infection rate has increased in the city due to the Omicron variant, the number of Covid outbreaks in MFT’s hospitals has also risen in recent weeks.

There were 15 Covid outbreaks within the trust during December – the highest number since the start of 2021 – and so far in January, there have been 12.

MFT group chief executive Sir Mike Deegan told the board that the situation is ‘even more challenging’ now than it was when members last met in November.

But because modelling has been ‘on the money’, the trust has been ‘as prepared as we possibly could have been to handle the impact of Omicron’.

He said: “We’re absolutely focused on maintaining the safety of our services and we’re working in lockstep with all organisations across [Greater Manchester] so as we escalate services we do that once for the whole city region and we continue to support each other.”

The decision to pause some elective care in Greater Manchester is being reviewed on a weekly basis with the next review scheduled for 17 January.