AN intensive care medic at Great Western Hospital has urged people to follow the Covid rules as cases continue to soar. 

Consultant in respiratory and intensive care medicine Mark Juniper has stressed the importance to follow the current guidelines as hospital staff are already working above their original capacity in ICU.

He said: “Chest problems are always more common over the winter months and intensive care units have always been needed to treat the sickest of these patients.

“But this year has been exceptional due to Covid-19, which is causing severe health concerns in a large number of people.”

The ICU originally had the equipment and staff to provide ventilation for eight patients.

Dr Juniper added: “To support the increase in Covid-19 admissions, we have increased this to 16. Covid-19 is affecting some of our staff, so we are having to work flexibly to ensure that patients receive the care they need.

“The respiratory ward is busier than it has ever been before with multiple Covid patients needing breathing support and oxygen.

“We are rapidly getting busier and that is because we are seeing loads of patients with severe Covid-19, some of whom will sadly die from this condition.”

He said this rapid increase in the number patients is partly due to the new strain of the virus, which spreads more easily.

“The hospital and our staff are here so that everyone can have treatment when they become ill. We don’t want to be in a position where we can’t provide treatment for someone who needs it,” he added.

The hospital was treating Covid 145 patients yesterday and has warned that these numbers are continuing to climb.

Another 124 people tested positive in Swindon for coronavirus yesterday, bringing the total of 7,961 since the pandemic began.

Asked whether the new strains were in Swindon, borough council’s director of public health Steve Maddern said: “Although we’ve got no confirmed evidence that we have that new variant in Swindon, I think it seems to be quite clear that must be the case, not just for Swindon but across Britain.

“I think that has to be one of the explanations that we are seeing about increase in case rate.”

During a press briefing, Mr Maddern said the number of cases has increased across all Swindon postcodes, with SN2, SN3, SN4 and SN5 being the most affected areas.

He added: “The numbers are starting to go down, but it’s probably too early days to say that we’re heading in the right direction.”

GWH’s chief executive Kevin McNamara said they are working hard to treat Covid and non-Covid patients.

He said there are currently 181 staff off due to self-isolation or Covid-19 sickness.

“ICU is an area that gives a cause of concern. Our concern is being able to care for non-Covid patients that come through the doors whether people have a stroke, a heart attack or need a cancer treatment,” he added.

“It’s about making sure we’ve got facilities, and care available for them, and as we’ve seen in places like London, there is no guarantee of that at the moment, and if we’re not careful, we would get ourselves in a very similar position if those case rates continue to rise.”