The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) could be overwhelmed “in two weeks,” one doctor has warned as the country’s daily death toll surpassed 1,000.
“We’re really concerned now,” Rupert Pearse, an intensive care doctor and professor at Queen Mary University of London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “We would normally want one fully trained intensive care nurse per intensive care patient. Right now, we’re diluting down to one [nurse] to three [patients].”
In some areas, staffing gaps have to be filled with staff not fully trained for intensive care, he said. “The resources that we had in the first wave aren’t available to us.”
Asked whether the NHS could be overwhelmed at current infection rates, he said: “I never thought in my entire career that I would say something like this, but yes.”
The country registered more than 1,000 deaths on Wednesday for the first time since April.
Pearse said that British attitudes have changed since the first lockdown back in March 2020, and that the public were not engaging “in the way [they] did in the first wave.” Public figures disparaging lockdown measures have been “very hard for me or my colleagues to forgive right now,” he added.
The U.K. can hope to alleviate some of the stress on its care system as it begins a national rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be administered by general practitioners and key hospitals across the country.
Earlier on Thursday, British Home Secretary Priti Patel warned of “some [distribution] issues,” but said that there was a national effort in “getting this vaccine rolled out.”
NHS could be overwhelmed ‘in two weeks,’ UK doctor warns The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Politico.