Hospitals could run out of beds by December 17

Hospitals could run out of beds by December 17


Hospitals could run out of beds by December 17: Boris Johnson has been told NHS may be at maximum capacity a week before Christmas unless he orders more coronavirus lockdowns

  • Ministers had been told to prepare for a ‘worst case scenario’ of 85,000 deaths
  • Government insiders insist there is evidence that NHS beds in cities like Liverpool, which are already in Tier Three lockdown, are already running out 
  • There are currently 10,308 Covid patients in NHS hospitals 

Boris Johnson has been told that every hospital in England will be full by December 17 unless he orders more lockdowns.

The blunt warning emerged a day after a leaked Sage committee document revealed that ministers had been told to prepare for a ‘worst case scenario’ of 85,000 deaths.

A well-placed source said: ‘Ministers have been told in clear terms that if no further action is taken, at the present rate of rising infections, every hospital bed in England will be full by December 17. 

 ‘They would have no choice but to turn people away, including additional Covid patients, people who have heart attacks, cancer, road accident victims – because there would be no beds to put them in or staff to treat them. 

‘There could be a repeat here of the scenes in Lombardy in Italy at the start of the pandemic: the sick put in operating rooms or corridors.

Boris Johnson has been told that every hospital in England will be full by December 17

Ministers had been told to prepare for a ‘worst case scenario’ of 85,000 deaths

Government insiders insist there is evidence that NHS beds in cities like Liverpool, which are already in Tier Three lockdown, are already running out

 ‘Hospital admissions are forecast to go up slowly for the next few weeks but shoot up towards Christmas. 

‘People don’t realise that social distancing measures can mean only ten beds in a ward meant to take 20. 

‘And there is a finite number of trained ICU [intensive care unit] staff – you cannot do it without special training.’

Last night, a Downing Street source confirmed the Government had been advised that hospitals in England could run out of beds by Christmas but declined to give a precise date.

Government insiders insist there is evidence that NHS beds in cities like Liverpool, which are already in Tier Three lockdown, are already running out.  

The forecast of no beds being available by December 17 is understood to include the emergency ‘Nightingale’ wards.

However Mr Johnson is under pressure from powerful groups who are demanding he resist any new nationwide measures.

Tory MPs in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ Northern seats claim their lockdowns are not working and are unfair. 

‘Some medical experts claim lockdowns will lead to more deaths among people with cancer and other serious illnesses. 

Scientists have warned the second wave of coronavirus could result in 85,000 deaths, almost double the number of victims from the first epidemic

 ‘And some businesses believe the long-term damage to the economy outweighs the benefits. 

‘However there is some good news: the lockdowns in Liverpool and Manchester are said to have slowed their rate of infections.

A senior Tory said: ‘The Prime Minister is in an impossible position. He cannot let the economy collapse but a collapse in the NHS could be worse in the short-term.

‘Having said his priority is to protect the NHS he cannot risk hospitals being overrun. It would be disastrous at any time but much worse at Christmas.  

 ‘The risk of a permanent scar to his political and personal reputation is too great. Covid may have sealed Trump’s fate; no Conservative wants that to happen to the PM.’ 

Calls for a tighter clampdown follow research showing there are currently nearly 100,000 new cases a day in England and the virus is accelerating rapidly across the country, and fastest in the South.

The latest official study, released last night, was conducted by Imperial College London researchers and based on random swab testing of 86,000 across England between October 16 and 25

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week. In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent

Imperial researchers sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) – more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before. Pictured: How cases have surged since summer, according to findings from all six phases of the study

Lead author Professor Steven Riley, from Imperial College London, said: ‘There has to be a change. 

‘The rate of growth that we’re seeing in these data is really quite rapid. So one way or another there has to be a change before Christmas.’

Hospital admissions have soared to their highest level since April, with a further 1,404 admitted yesterday.

There are currently 10,308 Covid patients in NHS hospitals, up from 5,032 two weeks ago.

Yesterday another 280 deaths and 23,065 cases were recorded.

Nearly 100,000 people in England are catching Covid-19 every day, the R rate in London is almost THREE – and one in 75 Brits are currently infectious, new Imperial study finds 

Nearly 100,000 Britons are getting infected with coronavirus every day, according to results of Government-led surveillance study that suggests the UK is hurtling towards a second peak that could rival the first.

The REACT-1 project — which has been swabbing tens of thousands of people every week — estimated there were around 96,000 people getting infected every day in England by October 25.

Imperial College London experts behind the research warned cases were just weeks away from surpassing levels seen during the darkest days of the pandemic in March and April. Previous projections have estimated there were slightly more than 100,000 daily cases in spring, which led to over 40,000 deaths in the first wave. 

The study warned infections are doubling every nine days, suggesting there could be 200,000 daily cases by the first week of November. 

Imperial researchers said it was possible that the recent wet and dreary weather had played a role in the surge in infections, by driving people indoors where the virus finds it easier to spread. But they warned it was more likely a small dip in adherence to social distancing rules across the board had opened the door for the highly infectious disease to spread more rapidly.

Imperial’s best guess is that 1.3 per cent of everyone living in England was carrying the disease by October 25, the equivalent of one in 75, or 730,000 people. Covid-19 prevalence was highest in Yorkshire and The Humber (2.7 per cent) and the North West (2.3 per cent).

The study, which will likely be used to pile more pressure on No10 to impose a national lockdown, also estimated the virus’ reproduction ‘R’ rate — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — was nearly three in London, a finding the researchers described as ‘scary’. It was lower in the North West, where millions of people are living under draconian lockdowns.

Overall, the R rate was around 1.6 across England in the most recent week, compared to 1.16 in the previous round. Experts have repeatedly warned it is critical the reproduction rate stays below the level of one to prevent cases from spiralling. 


Ministers today dragged another 16 authorities into Tier Two, as Britain creeps another step closer to a de facto lockdown and the UK today confirmed another 23,065 positive test results and 280 deaths.

Cases are up 8.6 per cent on the 21,242 announced last Thursday, while deaths have increased by 48 per cent in the same time.    

The areas entering Tier Two are: East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford and the Wrekin, Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, the whole of High Peak in Derbyshire, Charnwood, Luton and Oxford City.

All of the areas will be hit by tougher restrictions banning socialising indoors with anyone they don’t live with from Saturday, the Department of Health confirmed. 

The key factor of Tier Two rules is the ban on indoor socialising with anyone from another household, which rules out meeting in pubs, restaurants, private homes or anywhere outside of work. People are advised not to travel more than necessary and must continue to follow the rule of six outdoors and adhere to all other national social distancing restrictions.

Department of Health officials announced the tier change for those areas this afternoon, but did not upgrade any places to Tier Three. That move had been expected for parts of the North East, where local officials have been discussing it, but they have agreed it is not yet necessary for the region.    

Political leaders there today said that spiking cases had been down to students and were now plateauing, and data would be carefully monitored and officials would meet again on Monday.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick today resisted calls from the Government’s scientific experts for another national lockdown as he said ‘you can’t have a stop-start country’ and the ‘very firm view’ remains that a ‘circuit breaker’ is not the right way forward. 

However, he conceded the ‘virus is in a bad place in all parts of the country’ as he urged the nation to ‘redouble our efforts’ to comply with existing coronavirus rules in order to slow the spread of infection.    

His comments came after the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) piled fresh pressure on Boris Johnson to impose tougher restrictions as it warned up to 85,000 people could die in a second wave. 

A ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ put forward by SAGE suggested daily deaths could remain above 500 for three months or more until March next year.    

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