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Worst of pandemic will soon be behind us, says NHS consultant

People wear face coverings in Kensington, London, as the government continues to monitor coronavirus infection levels ahead of potential end to covid restrictions on July 19th. Picture date: Tuesday June 29, 2021.

By Katie Dickinson, PA

The end of the pandemic is “now in sight”, according to an NHS frontline consultant, despite hospitals still feeling the strain of Covid-19 patient numbers.

Dr Richard Cree, who has blogged about his work during the pandemic, said he is confident that “the worst will soon be behind us”.

The intensive care consultant at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital believes the Omicron wave is now “waning”.

Writing in his nomoresurgeons.com blog, Dr Cree said: “Fortunately, the number of Covid patients being admitted each day has begun to decrease and the situation should continue to improve.

“Boris (Johnson) appears to have already started celebrating the end of the pandemic. To be honest, it looks like he started celebrating way back in May 2020 and never stopped.

“For the rest of us, raiding the wine fridge at work and cracking open the champagne may be somewhat premature.

“However, despite the strain that the hospital is currently under, I am confident that the worst will soon be behind us and that the end is now in sight.”

Dr Cree said local case numbers are falling but there are still a significant number of people in hospital.

He added: “Yesterday saw our total number of Covid-positive patients peak at 176, which is more than we saw during the first wave back in April 2020.

“However, things are not the same. Far fewer patients are unwell like they were back then.

“The Covid wards are no longer full of people struggling to breathe.”

While the situation is better than staff were expecting, the hospital is still finding it a challenge to cope with such a large number of patients, he said.

Dr Cree wrote: “The staff sickness rate is decreasing but there are still many members of staff who are unable to work following infection with Omicron.

“Empty beds remain hard to come by and many patients continue to experience long waits in A&E.

“Part of the reason that the hospital is so full is due to the difficulty in discharging patients once they have recovered.

“Many patients are unable to leave hospital due to pressure and staff shortages within the social care system. Others are unable to return to their own homes until a suitable care package is in place.

“Such delayed discharges inevitably lead to the hospital becoming clogged and the flow of patients grinds to a halt.

“Difficulty getting old patients out means difficulty getting new patients in.”

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