NHS Nearing Maximum Capacity, Blames Unvaccinated Patients

According to physicians groups, the NHS is nearing maximum capacity because of a surge of unvaccinated patients. Individuals who have not had the jab are occupying the majority of hospital beds and intensive care facilities. Hospitals around the country, including those in Gloucestershire, report that they do not have the space they need for new vaccinated patients and non-COVID patients. 


A Plea For People To Get Vaccines


Doctors on the front line are pleading with people to go ahead and get their jabs. Vaccination, they say, is the surest way to reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms and death.


However, many patients are not so keen. Those who refuse the vaccine cite a lack of testing and safety concerns.


Currently, public health professionals are urging people to get all three rounds of the COVID vaccine. Booster shots, they say, are something of a misnomer. The public is better off thinking about the jab as a three-course inoculation. 


Research suggests that natural immunity can last for up to 10 months, and possibly longer. However, vaccine protection is different, and patients need to be aware, they say, that the third jab isn’t optional. Calling it a booster is causing unnecessary confusion. 


Beds Full


Hospital beds are full, according to Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS registrar Graham Walkden. They’re being brought “to their knees” by an influx of patients who haven’t had the jab. 


What’s more, hospitals are seeing many more younger people, reflecting the low vaccine uptake among people aged 20 to 45. Around three quarters of all COVID-related hospitalisations are from people in this age group, not the at-risk elderly. 


However, the NHS is keen to maintain that around 25 percent of hospitalisations are among people who are “doing the right thing” and getting their jabs. Like the flu vaccine, the COVID-19 jab does not provide full protection and relies on the body’s ability to generate protective antibodies. 


Intensive care units are currently flat out with COVID-19 patients. That means that they’re not available for patients with other conditions. COVID patients tend to spend much longer in ICU than typical patients, compounding the issue. In some cases, it is necessary to keep patients in intensive care for a fortnight or more. 


Ambulances Waiting Outside


The lack of bed availability is leading to other downstream issues, medics say. Ambulances can’t offload their patients and, therefore, are having to wait outside hospital entrances until appropriate facilities become available. Elective patients are also missing out on surgeries because there are no suitable facilities to keep them after the operation. 


NHS staff say that the current situation is demoralising. Many patients who refuse the vaccination, they say, shouldn’t be there. Intensive care units are almost entirely full of COVID patients and that’s pushing out other people who need care for other reasons. 


A Path Forward


Fortunately, the deadliness of COVID-19 appears to be declining and will continue to do so next year, in line with other similar diseases. To reduce the burden on the health system, medics are asking people to get NHS prescriptions online and take advantage of telehealth. Currently, doctors are busy dealing with infected patients and ensuring that they do not spread disease to others. 


Currently, the vaccination rate in the UK is 75 percent of the adult population, and continues to rise, albeit more slowly. Experts believe that a rate of 90 percent is optimal and what is required to keep cases at a lower level. 


Thanks to better treatments and more vaccine rollout, death rates are falling substantially. While cases remain persistently high, deaths are not rising to the levels seen during the first and second waves of the pandemic in the UK. 


Getting out of this epidemic is something that is going to take time, according to Professor Tim Spector of the School of Life Science courses. Viruses tend to mellow over the long-term but, he says, that could take as much as five years. 


The good news is that health systems are far more prepared today than they were at the start of 2020 when the pandemic struck. ICU systems, PPE, and patient protocols are now in place to deal with massive influxes of patients in the future. 


Intensive care units themselves remain somewhat scarce. However, less costly methods for keeping people alive are being developed and installed at hospitals and medical facilities across the country. 


The best thing people can do today to protect their health, and that of those around them, is to get the jabs they need, according to the instructions of public health authorities.