Covid pressure on hospitals, ambulance service and 111 mounts

Covid care Photo EKHUFT

East Kent Hospitals are currently caring for double the number of covid patients compared to the first wave and, along with the other three acute hospital trusts in Kent and Medway, are appealing for people to use NHS services wisely as pressure on hospitals, ambulance service and 111 mounts.

The  hospital trusts across the county have high numbers of people using A&E, South East Coast Ambulance is under a lot of pressure, and calls to 111 have risen, meaning callers are waiting longer than usual.

More critical care beds have been made available, vital cancer treatment and other urgent operations are continuing. Some other procedures may be delayed as staff are needed to support the additional critical care beds which have opened. Patients should continue to keep appointments unless they have been told not to attend.

The pressure will stay on the NHS as long as the infection rates stay high.

Wilf Williams, Kent and Medway CCG accountable officer

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer for NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the strategic lead for the NHS response to Coronavirus in Kent and Medway, said: “The NHS is always busy at this time of year but the latest wave of Covid is putting all of our services under immense pressure. This is the hardest period we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic and we’re incredibly grateful to everyone who is working very hard to manage these challenging circumstances.

“We currently have twice the number of Covid positive patients receiving care in our hospitals than we did in the first wave.

“As Covid cases in the community have risen, the number of hospital admissions has also increased and there is pressure on all of our services. Our hospitals, ambulances, A&Es, community services, 111 and GP practices are experiencing high demand so we’re asking everyone who needs to use NHS services to do so wisely.

“We urge the public to play their part in stopping the spread of Covid-19 by staying at home as much as possible, social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands. If anyone needs urgent medical help they should call 111 first.”

NHS services in Kent and Medway are also experiencing higher rates of staff sickness due to the new strand of Covid.

Dr Rebecca Martin, Chief Medical Officer for East Kent Hospitals said: “Our staff are working incredibly hard caring for more than double the number of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus than in the first wave, and our hospitals are extremely busy.

“We are still here to help patients who need us for emergency and cancer care, but we are asking people to keep A&E for emergencies only and to call 111 for advice if they are not sure.

“If you need urgent care, NHS111 can now book a timed appointment for patients at the most appropriate service including Urgent Treatment Centres and hospital emergency departments if needed.”

Photo Secamb

Joe Garcia, South East Ambulance (SECAmb) Executive Director of Operations, said: “We are experiencing some very busy days and are working hard to respond to patients as quickly as possible. We are prioritising our response to our most seriously ill and injured patients but we are taking longer to reach some patients.

“We urge people to only call 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency and to use 111 for non-emergencies. We have also seen a high number of calls to our 111 service which is working hard to help patients. We would remind people to also make use of 111 online at

“If you have had to call 999 and are waiting for an ambulance, please only call us back if a patient’s condition worsens.

“We are very proud of our staff and thank them for their ongoing efforts and professionalism.”

Hospital data

Intensive care units at East Kent Hospitals are at capacity although the Trust is also using surge areas including theatre recovery rooms.

Currently traditional beds account for 10 at Kent & Canterbury, 15 at QEQM in Margate and 24 at WHH in Ashford, it may be. Yesterday (December 29) the Trust was at 96 per cent of traditional capacity, today the highest is 91 per cent in any of the ITUs.

Data from East Kent Hospitals (via NHS England) shows there are 374 occupied Covid beds as of December 22 at the main sites (Margate, Ashford and Canterbury). This is up from 173 on November 30. Of those 27 mechanical ventilation beds are in use, up 10 from November 30. East Kent Hospitals Trust has recorded 785 covid related deaths.


  1. It was pointless and a huge waste of funds the government and NHS building the Nightingale hospitals with all the brand new equipment putchased if they now don’t have the staff to run them. There is absolutely no foresight with this bunch of fools running the establishment. Some big businesses have made a mint out this pandemic whilst all the workers have had to suffer and are still suffering.

  2. Two points.

    How many of those under the EKUHT for covid have a bmi over 28?

    Any chance of some figures for staff absence ? ( for any reason whatsoever)

    • Sorry L C but what has the patients BMI got to do with covid? Are you of the opinion that any person overweight shouldn’t be able to receive treatment?

      • There’s a clear link between excess weight and the amount someone will suffer with covid, those with excess weight are disproportionately taking up nhs resources. I’ve not suggested that they should be denied treatment, but do feel that the link should widely publicised and people encouraged to look after their own health and not expect society to deal with it. We’re a fat unfit nation and like the USA having massive issues with covid.

    • You sound like a troll . Most people have put on weight over lockdown. People that are staying in trying to stay safe and keeping away from others. Not even getting to walk around a big supermarket for fear of catching covid. So just keep quiet

      • My son in law, a front line medic, points out that working shifts upsets the body’s metabolism. It is a well understood fact that shift workers tend to gain weight and are predisposed to diabetes.

        • That those working shifts choose bot to eat well or take exercise is a matter of choice not a predisposition, it just depends on wether you wish to look for and accept excuses that take away personal responsibility.

      • I’m not referring to a few punds gained over lockdown they’ll not be the ones that are suffering the most with covid and swamping the nhs. Rather the 28% of adults that are obese and to a lesser extent the additional 35% who are overweight.
        There is no real excuse in the vast majority of these people, its down to choice and effort. Not quite sure how a few basic statistics and their link to a nations health and prosperity is trolling.

  3. I’m with LC on this, as someone who grew up in the 40’s and 50’s when we had worse rationing than during the war, I don’t remember seeing any overweight, and obese people then! I am in the high risk group, due to age and infirmity, but some years ago I bought a Cross Trainer, after I had to give up swimming a mile every other day. I reckon I do about 3 miles a day on the machine, and I stopped eating/reducing animal fat, sugar, and carbs years ago! I am just under 6ft tall, and weigh under 12 stone, and I am severely obese phobic! People make me angry when I see these monsters getting new knees, hips, and treatment for diabetes, and other organ failures due to being overweight, and not exercising! Remember calories IN must equal calories OUT, simples! Yes put them at the back of the queue when it comes to vaccinations!

    • There i must disagree , they need to be at the fromt of the queue as they are the ones that will bring the nhs to its knees if they catch it.
      Whilst being born in the 60’s , i’ve seen a different world, i whole heartedly agree with the rest of what you say.

  4. I used to work shifts and need to address the fact that maintaining a healthy balanced diet is almost impossible, I worked shifts some between 12-24 hours providing front line protection for this country, at times you couldn’t spare 5 minutes for a wee let alone cooking a meal AND it’s that people eat the wrong stuff, it’s that there is no time to go to a kitchen to prepare it or have the time to sit down and eat it, without being called into action! I have had to retire because of severe underlying health conditions and my medication has made my weight gain, I have no control of it, so I’m already fighting against getting covid, you would deny me treatment if I was admitted into hospital! Not all weight gain in through food and lack of exercise, however many, like you, think that overweight people just sit in front of the telly eating fast food and sweets, that, I can assure you is most definitely not correct!

  5. I lived in Kent for many years and it’s so disheartening to think anyone is not taking this pandemic seriously and putting additional strain on the hardworking NHS staff. I recently re-located back to Denver, CO and it’s more of the same here. Thankfully, when it comes to non-COVID crises, our urgent care facilities are helping ease the burden (even minimally) on ER workers. If you’re in the area, I would highly recommend looking if you’re near any of these facilities:

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