Cambridge hospital warns it is 'ceasing to function' amid spike in COVID

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Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge is close to 'ceasing to function' as a COVID spike sees it close beds to prevent further infections (CUH NHS)
Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge is close to 'ceasing to function' as a COVID spike sees it close beds to prevent further infections (CUH NHS)

A Cambridge hospital that has had to shut off 150 beds to keep COVID infections down has warned it is battling to maintain critical care.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital has faced ongoing financial difficulties but its chief executive Roland Sinker says the situation has now reached crisis point.

“You’d have to be asleep to not realise the profound nature of the crisis we’re in,” he said, as reported by the Cambridge Independent on Thursday.

Coronavirus patient George Gilbert, 85, who is part of the TACTIC-R trial, is treated  at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge, England on May 21, 2020, during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - The new trial known as TACTIC-R is testing whether existing drugs will help prevent the body's immune system from overreacting, which scientists hope could prevent organ failure and death in COVID-19 patients. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Addenbrookes Hospital where 408 members of staff were off sick on the one day last week (Getty)

Sinker said that the situation was so serious they may have to restrict access to care to prevent any harm coming to patients. He added that some patients may. need to be sent to London or Birmingham for treatment.

Of the 900-1,000 beds across Cambridge University Hospitals, 150 were closed on Tuesday due to infection control and the reconfiguration required due to the pandemic. 

Sinker added: “We could barely cope before COVID... 150 beds out of 900... this is ceasing to function as a hospital.”

On Friday a hospital spokesman told Yahoo News UK the hospital was caring for 58 people with COVID-19, 11 of whom were in the critical care unit.

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets and speaks to nurses at the East Midlands and East of England Genomic Laboratory Hub at Addenbrooke's Hospital on October 31, 2019 in Cambridge, England. (Photo by Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson at Addenbrookes in 2019. The hospital has been plagued by financial problems in recent years (Getty)

On Monday Cambridge became an Enhanced Response Area for tackling the COVID pandemic. 

Rising rates in older people coupled with growing pressure on local health and education services led to the council, which is responsible for public health, asking the Government to grant the whole area ‘enhanced response area’ status.

The number of people needing hospital treatment in Cambridgeshire has risen sharply in the past month (CUH NHS)
The number of people needing hospital treatment in Cambridgeshire has risen sharply in the past month (CUH NHS)

This was granted for at least five weeks with the aim of bringing down infection rates, which are currently higher in most areas of Cambridge than during the January peak.

Last week, hospitals in England were ordered to “eliminate” ambulance queues outside hospitals after two deaths were linked to handover delays - one of which at Addenbrookes, where a woman died in the back of an ambulance following a handover delay.

NHS bosses highlighted the “risk to patient safety” in the letter which tells trusts to end all handover delays and stop using ambulances as emergency department “cubicles”.

Ambulance leaders have described the “highest level of emergency activity in history” and reports from around the country paint a bleak picture of ambulances queuing for hours outside busy hospitals.

The news came as Government figures confirmed that cases of the so-called Delta plus strain of coronavirus have increased by more than 7,000 in one week.

However, with the UK approving the world's first COVID antiviral pill that can be taken at home, there is hope that deaths and hospitalisations from the disease could soon be lowered dramatically.

Molnupiravir is produced by US pharmaceutical company Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Wednesday.

Addenbrooke's Hospital is an internationally renowned teaching hospital and research centre with strong affiliations to the University of Cambridge.

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