Number of Covid patients in hospital falls for first time in four months
- Credit: Brittany Woodman/Sonya Duncan
The number of people being treated for coronavirus in Norfolk’s hospitals has decreased for the first time since last September - but the NHS is running perilously low on critical care beds.
Latest data shows 716 Covid patients are now in the county's hospitals, down from 739 the week before, and following weeks of increases.
But, despite the good news, critical care beds continue to fill up, with only 14 unoccupied, down from 45 a week ago.
The figures show 56 of 67 critical care beds full at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) on January 17.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), in King's Lynn, only two out of 16 beds were free, and it was even lower at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), in Gorleston, where one out of 12 critical care beds was still open.
The hospitals have previously said demand for beds is reviewed daily to make sure that the patients in the most need are prioritised. All three hospitals in Norfolk support each other as needed, meaning patients will be taken elsewhere if they get full.
Coronavirus patients continue to make up around a third of all patients at Norfolk’s three emergency hospitals.
There were 299 coronavirus patients in beds at the NNUH. The hospital, which has drafted in the military to help, is reporting 93pc of all beds are occupied.
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At the JPUH, the number of Covid patients dropped from 146 to 126 last week. But despite the fall, the hospital is operating at close to capacity, with 96pc of all beds occupied.
Meanwhile, numbers at the Queen Elizabeth have fallen from 189 to 158, leaving 92pc of the hospital's beds full.
At West Suffolk Hospital, there were 149 virus patients in beds on January 10, compared to 183 the week before. There, 81pc of beds are occupied, and 33pc are taken up by virus patients.
Meanwhile the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – the region’s mental health trust – has reported 45 Covid patients in beds, up from the 34 reported last week.
And the Norfolk and Suffolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust has seen the numbers of Covid patients grow from 84 to 88.
Our maps below shows the pressure the virus is putting on hospitals across the region, with experts predicting it will still be a few weeks before numbers ease.
Government data also suggests the R number - which tracks the average number of infections caused by a person with Covid - has fallen below 1 in the East of England region. Anything below 1 should see a fall in cases over time.
Nationally, the R number is thought to be between 0.8 and 1.
Across England, 77,606 hospital beds are occupied, down from 81,481 last week, and 34,015 are taken up by virus sufferers. But the number of intensive care beds occupied by Covid patients is still rising. In all, 3,603 are in intensive care, compared to 3,175 the last week.