Army medics at Walsall hospital amid ‘extremely challenging’ Covid surge


A hospital in the West Midlands is receiving support from the military during an ‘extremely challenging’ upsurge in Covid-19 patients.

Walsall Manor has 50% more coronavirus patients than it had during the April peak with a 250 per cent occupancy rate in its intensive care unit.

Army medics are working under the supervision of senior clinicians and nursing teams at the hospital and others in London and the Midlands.

Chief Executive Richard Beeken said frontline staff were grateful for the support at a time when the NHS faced ‘unprecedented pressures’.

Around 400 military personnel are being drafted in to hospitals in the two regions, as well as volunteers drawn from retired health service staff and St John Ambulance.

Nationally, more Covid patients are on wards now than at the height of the first wave in April.

Richard Beeken, Chief Executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, told ‘We are grateful to have the support of the military personnel in our hospital at this extremely challenging and difficult time. 

‘These are very helpful clinical support staff who are working alongside our own medics, nurses and frontline staff who are doing an amazing job working around the clock to respond to the unprecedented pressure on the NHS.’

Mr Beeken added: ‘Over the past week the Trusts within the Black Country including Walsall Healthcare have been extremely busy as we continue to treat high numbers of Covid positive patients both in critical care and throughout our hospital wards.

‘We would like to pay tribute to our staff who continue to work tirelessly to make sure everyone gets the best possible care in these challenging circumstances.

‘We would also ask the public to play their part by adhering to national lockdown rules to help limit the spread of the virus within our communities.’

The scale of the pressures on the NHS were starkly outlined today in figures from a neighbouring Trust showing there are now 39% more Covid patients than during the first peak.

University Hospitals Birmingham said it was looking after 985 patients as of Thursday morning, which is 277 more than on April 10, 2020.

Data published by England’s biggest hospital trust showed that number was a 7.4% rise on the figure of 917 patients six days ago.

The organisation, which runs the largest intensive treatment unit (ITU) in the country at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, also has 13.4% more Covid-positive patients in critical care than it did during its first peak.

At the Walsall Manor, which serves around 270,000 people, the immense pressure is expected to last for another 10 days. Mr Beeken outlined the scale of the challenge as he spoke to BBC Radio WM this morning.

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He said: ‘The hospital as a whole has got half as many patients again with Covid than it had in the April peak and the ICU has an occupancy rate of 250 per cent compared to its normal baseline.

‘We are absolutely not yet from a hospital perspective at the peak of this pandemic.

‘There’s a seven to ten day lag between incidence rates in the community and the number per 100,000 and admissions to hospitals.

‘We are predicting that the peak for hospital admissions could be the end of this week but the peak for critical care is not going to be for another ten days or so.’

Mr Beeken described the Army medics as ‘highly drilled, professional and enthusiastic’ and added ‘they are going down well with staff’.

The Trust reminded people that if they are unwell they can seek advice and treatment using the usual routes including NHS 111, Urgent Care Centres, pharmacies or their GP.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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