The Island’s top NHS boss has issued a stark warning saying, “We’re still in the eye of the storm,” as our only hospital remains under considerable strain.
The cautious approach came from chief executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Maggie Oldham, who said services are still being pushed to their limits and that people should not get complacent. Deaths from Coronavirus have continued to rise on the Island this week with another 14 people dying since last Friday (January 22). It was announced yesterday (Thursday) that two more people have died in St Mary’s, bringing the total this week to seven. Seven more people have died from the virus outside of hospital. A total of 173 people have died on the Island, including 59 people in the community.
However, there was some good news as case rates steadily start to slow down, now falling to 393.6 cases per 100,000 from a peak earlier in January of 1,171.6. Yesterday, 58 new cases were reported taking this month’s total to 4,396 and the cumulative total to 6,075.
To cope with the surge in acutely ill patients, some of the trust’s more routine services have been stood down, but Ms Oldham said doing that affects some patients’ quality of life as they have to wait longer for operations and care.
The intensive care unit (ICU) at St Mary’s is working at 50 per cent higher capacity than it is normally commissioned to provide. Last week, the IW NHS Trust revealed patients had been airlifted to hospitals on the mainland as the ICU no longer had the capacity to treat them.
Staffing troubles are also plaguing the hospital, with around 10 per cent of staff out sick or isolating due to being in close contact with a Covid case. In the ambulance service, staff absences peaked at over 20 per cent.
Speaking at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Ms Oldham said it was pleasing to recognise the prevalence is coming down but sadly for her it still feels like ‘we are in the eye of the storm’. She said: “As it is today (Thursday) the IOW NHS Trust and particularly its acute, community and ambulance services are under considerable strain, our mental health colleagues also.
“We continue to see very high levels of patients needing our care – we are far from a position that we feel we have started to see the worst of it.”
The latest variant of Covid-19 is more transmissible and was, at one point, accountable for 90 per cent of the Island’s Covid cases. January alone accounts for more than half of the Island’s cases as the new variant spre