Plea to ‘take extra care’ as staff absences, Covid and A&E demand put pressure on East Kent Hospitals

Hospital pressures

Advice to take ‘extra care’ has been made as East Kent Hospitals – including QEQM in Margate – are facing a series of pressures with staff absences, rising covid cases and a surge in accident and emergency departments due to people being unable to get a GP appointment.

Chief executive Susan Acott says Covid in-patient numbers are rising, although levels are nowhere near those in January 2021, and care needed is not generally intensive.

Following an enquiry from Kent County Councillor Karen Constantine on how well the health service in east Kent is coping, the Chief Exec said the situation is “very pressurised.”

She adds: “Sadly, we have a rising number of Covid patients again which is a worry. It is nothing like last January but we are now aware that Omicron is very transmissible which presents logistical issues in managing presenting and ‘incidental’ covid patients.

“Most are not going to ITU (intensive therapy unit) and are staying less time which is good news and shows the value of the vaccine and also the new treatments we have available.

“We have a higher footfall through the A+Es as patients struggle to get to see their GP and we also have a high number of patients awaiting onward care so discharging people who need a package of care of nursing home support has been exceptionally slow.

“We are concerned with the impact on staffing as people isolate or catch covid and morale is affected as the staff have to ‘go again’.”

The OPEL status at East Kent Hospitals has moved between three and four- the highest level- over the last few weeks.

OPEL status indicates the overall level of pressure in the health system and is implemented based on the number of available beds, number of staff, the number of inbound ambulances per hour and other risk factors. The whole region has been in OPEL 3/4 during the same period.

To help reduce pressures some services have been moved to Canterbury to protect them from covid. This has resulted in consistent cancer services although there were a number of patients cancelling appointments before Christmas.

Adding to current difficulties is the extensive building work taking place at QEQM to enlarge the A&E and the children’s A&E departments.

The Trust does have enough Lateral Flow Tests for staff who may have hit difficulties obtaining them. Ms Acott says the Trust has been advised that nationally there is no shortage but supply lines are challenged by demand, staff sickness and the festive shut down.

Cllr Constantine is asking Thanet residents to take ‘extra care’ to tackle Omicron.

She said: “The next few weeks will be challenging. All of our NHS workers and other vital frontline staff are working hard and having to ‘go again’ to meet this wave of Omicron. I’m sure you’d all join me in extending our thanks – again – as we get through another wave of infection.

“We can all take steps to help protect ourselves, our families and our vital healthcare, front line workforce. We can all play our part.

“In some parts of the country hospitals are struggling to cope with demand, staff absence in some locations means up to a quarter of public health workers are away from work due to health concerns.

“QEQM is currently managing demand but is seeing rising numbers of Covid patients. Thankfully many aren’t going into ITU and are being discharged home more quickly thanks to the vaccinations.


“If anyone hasn’t yet received a vaccination you can still get a one and a booster. If you’re worried and I know some people are, I would suggest you seek a conversation with a medic who may be able to answer your questions and reassure you.

“I urge people to stick to social distancing and please wear a mask whenever you are out, but especially in shops and other crowded places, unless you are exempt. If possible, for the next few weeks consider staying away from other people, especially indoor gatherings.

“If you can avoid seeking an appointment with your GP, please do so. Consider topical treatment at home for coughs and colds. If you need to visit A&E remember there is real demand and strain in the system and if you can, please consider attending one of the Urgent Treatment Centres at Deal, Dover, Herne Bay and Whitstable. I’m advised that they all tend to be far less busy with greater social distancing too.

“We need to take increased care now, not to overwhelm our NHS and to protect the workforce. As we now understand, this wave will pass, but let’s take some simple steps to minimise the impact and risk from Omicron. I hope people will join me in taking a bit of extra care.”

As of December 28, there were 64 inpatients with covid at East Kent Hospitals, with six in ventilation beds.

East Kent Hospitals Trust is urging people to contact NHS 111 as a first port of call rather than attending accident & emergency departments.

£7million boost for three-year A&E project at Margate and Ashford hospitals


  1. We need an Urgent Care Unit in Thanet. Seems stupid, as the largest population we do not have at least one here. Why are those in charge taking services away from Thanet and not providing the care that’s desperately needed there?
    I thought that Chief Exec woman in charge Susan Acott was leaving, the quicker the better.

    • Yes, she is predictably leaving right before the inquiry into the dead babies begins this year, with the usual golden handshake deal for overseeing total incompetence, arrogance, bullying, failure to implement the recommendations which could have saved lives etc.

      As for the NHS bleating & insisting fit people get jabbed over & over while they cancel operations & appointments-we recently found out around a third of people with Covid either went in with no symptoms for other health issues & they diagnosed Covid there, or contracted it in hospital due to their incompetence of sticking non Covid patients on Covid wards, so they have made the problem a whole lot worse. Very hard to see how they can keep making these excuses now we have a dominant strain with 70% less people needing to go to hospital, falling death rates etc. People have always worked with colds-sending your workforce home/sending them off to jab healthy people is what is causing the problem.

    • A wise move, you at least know that so long as you are happy to wait long enough you will be seen. Which is more than can be said for many ( but not all ) gp surgeries.

  2. “with 70% less people needing to go to hospital, falling death rates”
    70% of a huge huge number is a huge number.
    It’s not death rates on their own that’s of concern: it’s the impact of the disease on 10s or 100s of thousands of workers that’s the worry.
    Do try to see the wider picture.

    • Or put in another way, since the start of covid there have been around 650k hospital admissions ( an estimated 25% of these aquired in hospital after being admitted for other issues) so in reality 465k admissions from a total number of cases of 14 million, so roughly 3.5% chance of being hospitalised (with or because of covid) , with a 70% reduction of hospitalisation with omicron that comes out at around 1%. Once in hospital there is also a reduced chance of needing intensive treatment and stays in hospital solely for covid are much shorter on average.
      Today there are reportedly 150,000 cases so around 1,500 can expect to go into hospital with ( or because of) covid. It would be logical to assume that there are a number of discharges each day also, so shall we say a max of 5000 patients in hospital either directly through covid or have it as a secondary condition, many of the latter group would be in hospital anyway ( with the primary condition).
      As i’ve put up before in 2019/20 , hospital admissions where obesity was a primary or secondary factor were 1020 k ( so around 3000 a day, none of whom would have aquired the condition in hospital).
      So when everything is in perspective , its somewhat surprising we don’t get endless articles and comments on the dangers of getting fat, the strain it places on the nhs and those who have to wait longer for treatment because of the self induced admissions. Where are the shouts about selfish fat people, who should be denied hospital treatment as they bought their situation on themselves?
      Or is it because many of the most vocal are somewhat hypocritical? Being obese increases the risk of dieing from covid by 37%, a number that you’d think would mean that the parks and esplanades would be crammed with people exercising and that we’d have nationwide salad shortages, but amazingly we don’t, (given its been. Nigh on 2 years you’d also expect clothes shops to be doing a roaring trade to those requiring smaller clothes) so obviously the fat either don’t care if they die or don’t believe the science ( well they do but only selectively)
      Everyone is entitled to an opinion ,but it should always be voiced as a part of a balanced argument based on at least a few facts.

      • Lc I find your remarks about fat people extremely rude. Some larger people are that way due to medication or health problems.. So yes they do care if they die.. Try being a bit more caring instead of insulting.

        • In reality Louise very few people have thyroid issues or medicine making them fat or obese-it is a simple case of gluttony in nearly every case. Obesity costs the NHS around 6 billion a year & that is projected to be 10 billion a year by 2050 unless something changes.

      • I concur LC, but what has also to be taken into consideration is that as most people have had at least 2 jabs, and many more have been Boostered, they are less likely to need medical care in hospital! I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, when we had had 12 years of stringent food rationing, and don’t remember seeing any fat or obese people about! In fact had they been seen as ubiquitous as they are today, there would have been a high level of suspicion as to where they had been getting their extra food from! Overweight and obese people descended on us about 20 t0 25 years ago, when ready meals, and takaways became abundant, and people found it more convenient to buy a meal this way, than to cook it!

        And yes, anyone who is fat, overweight, and obese is costing the NHS, us, £billions because of their self induced medical needs, Diabetis, replacement hips, knees, organ failure etc, occupying hospital beds unnecessarily! Perhaps it would be a good idea to concentrate them in Nightingale hospitals, and feed them war time rations for a few weeks, and teach them how to cook, it would save us a fortune!

    • But Andrew-we now know that 30% of those ‘in hospital with Covid’ actually went in as many of us suspected due to other health problems unrelated to Covid & were then diagnosed with it or contracted it in there during their stay-so the NHS has inflated that number by around a third due to its own incompetence & trying to inflate the numbers for political reasons-just like the dying with Covid-doesn’t matter what killed you, Covid gets put on the death certificate if you test positive for it-making the Covid death tally far worse than the reality.

      The numbers in hospital will soon be falling dramatically-as they did in South Africa. The workers being off with nothing more than a cold/winter bug is a massive problem-there is no excuse for this with such a mild variant now the dominant strain & Delta being virtually extinct. Stays in hospital with these are far less-most aren’t blocking beds for weeks or months-the pressure is being vastly overstated for obvious reasons.

      News from France is there is a ‘new’ strain there-which no doubt will already be here with all the people coming from Calais every day & those returning from there. This strain is even more transmissible than Omicon, but that means it will be even loss side effects, people in hospital etc. You need to see the reality & stop hiding under the bed with a sheet of tin foil forever. This is now a total joke-people are dying or living severe pain for 2 years nearly now due to this Save The NHS bs-they were seven times busier last year & are still here.

      Today the boss of the Vaccine & Immunisation committee has said enough is enough-you cannot kept shoving boosters-especially as they have such a short life span into people every six months & that there has to be real tangible evidence for a fourth jab.

  3. Lc.. I find that rude and unkind.. Maybe larger people have medical reasons for being over weight so the thought that they don’t care of they die is a nasty thing to say.. You a bigot?

    • Find it any way you will. My last sentence regarding opinions backed up by a few basic facts should probably answer your bigot enquiry.
      Weight gain is at its simplest the result of more calories being taken in than expended. Whilst a side effect of some drugs and conditions is weight gain in the majority of those cases the reason is an increased appetite and the inability of the person in question to resist the urge to eat. Mental health issues are again cited for weight gain as a result of comfort eating. However the vast majority of those carrying excess weight do so purely as a result of not choosing to do something about it.
      The possible consequences of carrying excess weight are well known but like smokers and drinkers they choose to accept those risks at the same time expecting wider society to fund a health service to look after them if and when their choices negatively effect their health. There’s the argument that smokers and drinkers contribute towards their care via the tobacco and alcohol taxes, few such taxes apply to food and drink.
      People also choose to have a sedentary lifestyle. Despite the lobbying by the fat acceptance pressure groups its patently obvious that excess weight is unhealthy. It’s also pretty much a problem of the last 30 years or so.
      Quite how is the nation expected to fund a health service where the population seems bent on ruining its health.
      There is no real national debate because we have too many large people who can’t be offended by being told the truth as they effectively control the country via the ballot box.
      My comments stemmed from the presumption by many ( very much encouraged by the media) that the nhs was on its knees due to covid, i was merely pointing out that excess weight places double the strain on the nhs than covid and that strain will still be there when covid is accepted as the nasty seasonal bug it has become.
      That we’ve had a hard time with covid is largely a result of our demographic profile ( lots of old people) and too many fat/ unfit people. Quite why nearly 2 years into covid the calls are for ever greater restrictions and state intervention rather than a call for personal responsibility and a move towards healthier lifestyles is beyond me. But surely reflects that people don’t want to take charge of their own lives preferring to carry on as they are and expecting wider society to carry the burden.
      I have a similar view to Stephen Fry when it comes to people taking offence. Claiming to be offended is too often the default position of those who do not wish to discuss, choosing instead to shut down views/opinions that don’t accord with their own by invoking “offence”.

    • Nearly all obesity is caused by eating too much & lack of exercise. People have had thyroid issues & been on medications forever-but obese people were a rarity until recent decades-because there weren’t endless fast food shops around-I can remember the hoopla when McDonald’s opened in Margate in around 1983 or 1984, home delivery of junk food, ready meals & plate sizes weren’t as big either.

      Obesity in my childhood which was late 1970’s & 1980’s was something very rare & seen as something shameful, not the norm as it has been for the last 30 plus years. It is a massive time bomb the NHS cannot cope with & people will be dying a lot younger in vast numbers as it becomes worse.

  4. Hospitals, Doctors and nurses all struggling and alot of Thanet people go in the sea in freezing temperatures on NY day!! Then rub it in their faces on social media. Look at us swimming, how brave and smug are we!!
    Let’s all get ill and put more stress on twee NHS!!
    Absolute cov-idiots!!

    • Struggling how? Most of them are sitting at home with mild cold symptoms-getting paid full whack. The covidiots are the ones buying this Save The NHS bs for the last two years & who stand outside clapping at the sky & banging saucepans-while millions are on waiting lists developing terminal cancers that could have been treated, hooked on pain pills due to cancelled ops etc-because the NHS/government have thrown everything at what for most is a cold or winter bug for 2 years & spread a large amount of Covid themselves due to incompetence.

    • No problem so long as the overweight and obese ,smokers , alcoholics and junkies have to do the same. Quite what exactly is an “anstatistic” also are you conflating anti vaxer ( someone who actively campaigns against vaccination) with the unvaccinated ( those who choose to not be vaccinated but have no issue with those who to be )?

      • Strange that so many of these jab lovers have got so ingrained in being locked down, having basic human rights taken away, having needles shoved in their arms etc that suddenly they also want the NHS to deny what are deemed anti-vaxxers-in reality most are pro vaccine, but not this untested one & pro choice for anybody to have it. While conversely they want either the jabs forced into us-presumably at gunpoint by the army or armed police, while being held down, or to be denied hospital treatment that we all pay for.

        Frankly we should all be getting a rebate on NHS contributions anyway-if you bins weren’t emptied for nearly two years would you not be wondering why you are paying council tax? GP’s surgeries closed & no appointments other than the for most useless virtual ones, people’s surgeries being cancelled leading to early deaths & living in extreme pain-yet most still seem to be shouting save the NHS & happy with this arrangement.

    • Except the majority of non-vaccinated are in reality pro vaccines. Anti Vaxxers are the tiny minority of lunatics like Corbyn’s brother.

      There is nothing wrong with questioning rushed out vaccines that haven’t been published & peer reviewed in medical journals, or deciding not inject yourself with experimental drugs that have no peer reviews & no long term evidence of potential issues they could cause down the line-more side effects are being found as we move on & no many of us have very little faith in companies with abysmal track records-who get government indemnity from adverse effects & who are currently trying to fight the release of their documents until 2076 or even 2097 in court in the US.

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