Looking at the figures: How the Omicron variant is affecting hospitals in the Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth area

New data offers some encouragement - but Warwick Hospital warns that it is still experiencing significant demand

The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has had an effect on health care services across the country - and offers a serious challenge to the NHS throughout January.

The good news is that early studies seem to suggest that the new variant is less severe than the Delta variant. But the fact that it is much more transmissible means it will affect a lot more people and thus put a strain on our hospitals.

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New figures show that one third of Covid patients in English hospitals are now being treated primarily for other conditions. This isn't without its challenges, of course, as they need to be kept away from non-Covid patients and having the virus can still have an impact on their health.

The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has had an effect on health care services across the country - and offers a serious challenge to the NHS throughout January.

We wanted to look at how our local services have been affected.

However, the latest figures only cover up to the end of December and we realise that the picture can easily change in the space of just a few days.

But the figures for the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (which covers Warwick Hospital) do offer some encouragement. They show that as of December 28, there were no Covid patients on ventilators - there were two at the beginning of the month.

The figures from the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust also show no major increase in patients needing ventilators.

We asked South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust for an update on these figures to see if the picture had changed since the data. They were unable to provide any further figures but said that they are "currently experiencing significant demand for our services". They also said that the majority of Covid patients are unvaccinated (see on this below).

Here are the figures for the local area:

South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

New Covid admissions, week ending Dec 1: 16

New Covid admissions, week ending Dec 26: 18

Covid patients on ventilators as of 01/12/2021: 2

Covid patients on ventilators as of 28/12/2021: 0

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

New Covid admissions, week ending Dec 1: 31

New Covid admissions, week ending Dec 26: 63

Covid patients on ventilators as of 01/12/2021: 6

Covid patients on ventilators as of 28/12/2021: 7

So what is the current situation at the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust?

Only last week, Warwick Hospital confirmed that its had experienced a 'small Covid outbreak' - but this is it expected at most hospitals as the Omicron variant takes hold.

We wanted to find out more about the current situation - and while he was not able to provide updated figures to new data above, the Trust's chief executive Glen Burley did have a message to the public.

He said: “We are currently experiencing significant demand for our services and are calling on local people to help us help them by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies.

“The pressure is only going to increase as we move into the depths of winter, which is always a difficult period for health and social care organisations with additional pressures attributed to seasonal flu, norovirus and inclement weather increasing accidents. This year there is also the extra challenge of managing Covid-19 and in particular the pressures of increased staff absence due to isolation rules.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our number one priority. We have developed a robust winter plan to strengthen our ability to cope with and respond to the pressures. However, our staff, who have been working relentlessly over the last two years, need your support in helping to stop the spread of Covid-19, assisting to get your relatives home and choosing the right service for your needs. This is to ensure we can care for the people that need us the most.

“Flu and coronavirus vaccines are a vital tool in reducing your risk of serious illness and hospitalisation. 70% of people in Intensive Care Units in the Midlands with Covid-19 cases are unvaccinated and evidence shows that Omicron is just as severe as Delta for the unvaccinated. To protect yourself, your loved ones, our patients and staff and to protect our services this winter we urge you to book your Covid-19 vaccine/booster as soon as possible. Two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and the booster jab reduces your risk of symptomatic disease from the omicron variant by up to 75%. To view your eligibility and book an appointment visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/.

“In addition, to ensure you are not unknowingly passing Coronavirus on to others, we also strongly encourage everyone in our local population to carry out regular lateral flow testing. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading and protects the vulnerable. If you have symptoms, however mild, you must isolate and book a PCR test.

“If you require medical attention, choose the right service for your needs. There are lots of services available for our communities to ensure they stay well this winter. If you require urgent, but not life-threatening medical advice please visit NHS 111 online. Your local pharmacies are also available. Pharmacists offer expert advice for many common winter ailments such as coughs and colds, sinusitis, earaches and sore throats.

“Research shows being in familiar surroundings aids recovery. You can help get your relatives and loved ones home when they are medically fit for discharge by; bringing in clean clothes, providing transport and ensuring their house is warm and stocked with food for their return.”

Are people being treated with, rather than for, Covid?

Most Covid-positive patients in English hospitals are being treated primarily for coronavirus, although the Omicron wave has resulted in a growing minority who are admitted for other conditions but who test positive for Covid-19 as well.

On December 1, a quarter (25.7%) of Covid patients in hospital in England were being treated primarily for other conditions. By December 28, this had risen to a third (33%).

London has seen the biggest rise in both types of Covid patient.

From December 1 to December 28, the number of beds occupied by people being treated mainly for Covid-19 nearly doubled in the capital, from 844 to 1,630.

At the same time, the number of patients who had Covid but who were being treated mainly for other conditions quadrupled, from 180 to 801.

Patients who are in hospital with, but not because of, Covid still place extra pressure on the system.

NHS England says patients who are being treated primarily for other matters still need “treatment in areas that are segregated from patients without Covid”, and the presence of the virus can be a serious complicating factor for their health.

What about vaccinations?

The latest figures show that four in five people in the Warwick district have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The latest figures show 108,313 people had received both jabs by January 3 (Monday) – 79% of those aged 12 and over, based on the number of people on the National Immunisation Management Service database.