* Only 4,100 Intensive Care Beds * Only around 5,000 ventilators * shortage of over 10,000 nurses
* shortage of trained ICU nurses * fears of NHS running out of oxygen
NHS anaesthetist - "I want you to know that young people can and do become critically unwell and die from COVID-19. A colleague of mine is currently looking after several patients under the age of 40, all on ventilators."
Watching the daily press conference from Boris Johnson and his two 'advisers' it is become clear that none of them have a clue about the correct response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) threat.
The number of times everything is precursed with the the words 'based on the science' is remarkable and is repeated by the media, with the BBC News this morning misleading the country by stating 'the advice from the scientists has changed'!
The World Health Organisation has given the consistent advice of testing and knowing where those with the disease are. that is the only way of tackling the disease and making the best plans for isolation and treatment.
However, the UK Government has ignored this advice and is placing the onus on the people of this country to take action whilst the lack of knowledge of the true number of cases, the non-testing at airports and at ferry terminals, and the lack of critical care beds and ventilators plus the staff to use them; are all conspiring to cost lives!
The language used by the PM is akin to a jolly exercise in all 'taking it on the chin, with the British stiff upper lip' and that way we will 'beat the virus'!
The lack of resources caused by ten years of neglecting the NHS and running it like a business, has created the circumstances that many people will die of this virus due to lack of proper care:
Meanwhile, the lessons from Italy are not being learned, nor is the fact that the Italian Healthcare system is classed as being well above that of the UK, along with that of Spain and Germany, the latter of which has had only 20 deaths from the virus out of am infected population of 7,689, The UK has only 1,553 cases but with the deaths of 55 people!
Even India, with a population of 1.8 Billion has only 129 cases with 3 deaths to date!
But the truth of the matter is that a lack of personal protective resources and a minimum of 10,000 fewer NHS clinical staff, plus a chronic shortage of intensive care beds, specialist staff and of ventilators, are the main factors which determine the Government's planning and advice on combating Coronavirus (Covdi-19) in the UK.
An NHS anaesthetist, too frightened for his job to be identified, told Sky News:
"In the UK, there is already no slack in the system. We have half the number of intensive care beds per head of population as Italy and intensive care beds run at capacity year-round, so much so that lack of a bed is a common reason for on-the-day surgery cancellations.
The fear among my colleagues is that without any nationally led efforts to curb the spread of the virus, too many people will get COVID-19 at the same time and our limited resources will be rapidly depleted."
The anaesthetist explains further about the NHS being overwhelmed and what treatment is required to save lives:
"We have well over 50 cases as of the weekend and our intensive care is nearly full of coronavirus patients on breathing support machines.
One patient is sent for ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) at another hospital - a kind of bypass where a machine injects oxygen into the blood because the lungs have become too damaged to sustain life even on a ventilator.
We have just five centres in the UK capable of providing this service and they are very quickly filled.
Patients are not put onto this kind of life support unless they were fit and healthy before their illness.
Requiring this treatment means you are as sick as it is possible to be and it takes an awful lot of time, resources and biological resilience to recover. Essentially, ECMO buys your body time to recover from illness itself.
It is simply not true that only the very elderly who we can imagine "would have died soon anyway" will get sick.
I have looked after more than one patient who is in their early 60s with minor or no health complaints and who exercises regularly."
She/he also challenged the Government's message that only elderly patients with underlying health conditions may die:
"The fear among my colleagues is that without any nationally led efforts to curb the spread of the virus, too many people will get COVID-19 at the same time and our limited resources will be rapidly depleted.
It is those patients in their 30s to 60s, who with the right care are capable of surviving, that will be failed by a system that cannot accommodate them.
This does not even account for the patients of all ages with all manner of medical needs whose care has been put on hold to make way for coronavirus.
We are urgently planning alternatives to our acute heart attack and stroke networks as well as emergency surgery like broken limbs which can wait but really shouldn't.
We need the operating theatres as intensive care space, and we need the surgeons as intensive care doctors."
The anesthetists final words are truly concerning, coming from an NHS specialist:
"I do not just worry for the very frail and the elderly, I worry for the slightly older but ultimately fit people who could get better, but only with the right care." [our emphasis]
Meanwhile, the view of the UK's actions over the virus is seen from the perspective of other countries, to be woeful and worrying.
The Washington Post goes even further and had this headline yesterday (16th March):
In the article, written by Helen Jenkins, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University School of Public Health, writes:
Unlike every other country in the world, the UK was apparently planning to accept a wave of infections, which would ordinarily be considered catastrophic, with the goal of generating “herd immunity.” The government was holding to this until Monday, even as the number of infections of the novel coronavirus and related deaths start to steadily increase, in a pattern already seen in other countries.
The logic was “to build up some kind of herd immunity” over coming weeks to prevent a hypothetical second wave in the fall that would coincide with flu season and place the National Health Service under unimaginable strain. But we have no idea if there will be a second wave or when that would occur. Fortunately, Monday saw a request for people to limit social interactions, including “working from home where they can and avoiding pubs, clubs, and other venues.”
Time will tell how well these requests — not orders — are adhered to. [our emphasis]
She explains, using the analogy of 'star-gazing':
The idea of trying to bring on herd immunity is flawed for many reasons. One of them is the way it does not take into account the element of time. We have learned from the stars that what we see right now are a very delayed report of what was actually happening in the past.
When it comes to the coronavirus, that means that when we identify a “confirmed case,” this gives us more information about the past than the current situation. Several steps have already happened before a person is confirmed to have the disease. The first step is infection — no one sees this in real time, but it happens when contact occurs between someone who is infected and someone who isn’t.
Once the virus has established itself in a person, it sets up shop, it multiplies, it works its way around the body — and, after maybe a week, it starts to make itself known. Say you get a fever, maybe a bit of a cough. You go to the doctor. By the time you get tested, a whole week could have elapsed since the actual infection.
Now comes the real bad news for the UK's current policy:
The time lag between diagnosis and death is even longer — researchers have already established it takes about a month to die of covid-19. So in places where there has been poor testing (including the UK, where testing is focused on those at risk of severe illness), deaths attributed to the coronavirus are telling us that transmission happened five weeks earlier. Meanwhile, the virus has been gate-crashing restaurants, bars, schools, colleges and the subway, gleefully infecting person after person through our main protagonist: contact.
She concludes with this stark warning for the UK:
The British health-care system will probably be unimaginably overwhelmed, and the main cause will be the government’s policy. They are trying to manage the future, without realizing they are looking at the past.
The evidence is clear on this. Examples of how to manage this novel coronavirus are out there for all to see.
Source: Washington Post / Sky News / BBC News / unionsafety