Milton Keynes Hospital '40% busier' with covid-patients than during first peak and expect it 'to get tougher'

    Milton Keynes Hospital is about '40% busier' with covid-positive patients than during the first peak of the pandemic, Hospital CEO Joe Harrison told staff in a video message last week.

    Professor Harrison said he "expected it to get even tougher over the next few weeks".

    It comes as Mr Harrison revealed in a radio interview that the Hospital has plans in place to move intensive care patients, those who require the most intervention, to alternative sites if necessary.

    Mr Harrison was speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday morning, where he was asked specifically about the intensive care unit – or ICU – capacity at the local hospital which was able to be staffed.

    He told the programme: "Our intensive care unit here [in Milton Keynes] is full of all Covid patients, that is nine beds that we have available to us."

    "Should we see a further increase, we have got additional capacity we can call upon from our neighbouring organisations which would mean transferring patients out."

    Mr Harrison was asked to clarify what would happen if another patient came in with intensive care needs or needed to be moved from a ward into intensive care in Milton Keynes.

    "What we will do is for every patient that requires that higher intensity of care, we will make a clinical decision about whether there is a patient that we can step down from critical care or who will need transferring out."

    The Hospital are working with neighbouring Hospitals who have critical care capacity available, including the large teaching hospitals in Oxford and Cambridge.

    Mr Harrison said they haven't had to transfer any patients out of Milton Keynes during the first or second wave so far.

    But he told the programme that they are expecting a "step up" in the number of covid positive patients "requiring some form of medical intervention" in the next two weeks.

    Mr Harrison said that the Hospital have “made various plans to cope with that” and that the team are working with neighbouring hospitals to support them where they can, as well as those hospitals supporting Milton Keynes.

    “It's really important that we have that clinical network in place, particularly as we are seeing different pressures in different parts of the country.”

    The Hospital “have had challenging winters previously” and are currently trying to balance covid-positive pressures with other winter pressures.

    Mr Harrison said Milton Keynes still has spare bed capacity, but added that there are a number of staff off sick across the NHS.

    “It’s balancing those additional bed pressures with making sure we can staff all of them safely.”

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