Derbyshire health experts warn of 'challenging' winter despite fall of covid cases from record high
With the temperature dropping, frost forming and talk turning towards winter and Christmas festivities, what is the current situation regarding Covid-19 in Derbyshire?
The level of Covid-19 cases in the community remains exceptionally high but has been reducing for the past couple of weeks from an all-time pandemic peak.
With the roll-out of vaccinations, the level of Covid-19 patients in our hospitals in Burton, Chesterfield and Derby remains far lower than during previous waves – even with high community case levels.
The number of patients in critical care is also lower than in previous pandemic peaks, as a result of vaccinations, improved understanding of the virus and thoroughly-researched medication to help patients recover.
Meanwhile, the number of Derbyshire residents who have died each week as a result of contracting Covid-19 remains low – once again this is much lower particularly alongside the height of community case levels.
Health leaders anticipate a “challenging” few months ahead, while they balance Covid demands alongside waiting list backlogs and a surge in demand for services.
Community cases of Covid-19: In the most recent week – to October 30 – Derbyshire recorded around 4,700 new Covid-19 cases. This is 22 per cent less than two weeks before, when the county and city clocked an all-time high of more than 6,000 new cases.
However, the 4,700 is still 30 per cent more than in the same week in October last year.
It is around the same level of cases as the county and city witnessed in mid-January when more than 700 Covid-19 patients were in our hospitals and extensive lockdown restrictions were in place.
The level of Covid-19 cases is dropping in all parts of the county but case rates per 100,000 people appear to show Bolsover (448), Chesterfield (616), the Derbyshire Dales (438), High Peak (580) and South Derbyshire (455) remaining above the national local area average (435) for weekly infections.
Derby has a higher rate of infections per 100,000 people in the most recent week (334) than in Nottingham (310), but lower than in Leicester (410) – all are lower than the national average.
Hospital Covid-19 patients: There are currently more than 90 Covid-19 patients in our hospitals, with 46 at Royal Derby Hospital, 38 at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and 12 at Queen’s Hospital in Burton.
Of these patients, eight are in intensive care requiring significant support, with four in Royal Derby, three in Chesterfield and one in Burton.
When case levels were at this level in mid-January, there were nearly 640 patients (seven times the current level) in the same three hospitals, with 349 at Royal Derby, 158 in Chesterfield and 141 at Queen’s.
Meanwhile, the number in intensive care had been far higher, at 40 patients in need of critical care – five times the current level.
This shows the worth of Covid-19 vaccinations, with booster jabs now being rolled out to anyone aged 50 and over, clinically vulnerable or who is a health and social care worker.
First and second doses continue to be administered at sites around Derbyshire and children aged 12-15 are also now receiving a jab, either in school or at a public vaccination site.
Covid-19 deaths: There have been 3,153 Covid-19 deaths in Derbyshire since the start of the pandemic as of the most recent data, with Derby and Derbyshire recording around 305 deaths per 100,000 people since the outbreak began.
In the most recent week, 16 people died as a result of Covid-19 in Derbyshire. This is where the virus is listed as a cause on the death certificate, the metric used by our public health officials.
This is an increase from seven in the previous week.
However, much like with the hospital inpatient levels, this is drastically lower than in other pandemic peaks when cases were as high as they are now.
During January, Derby alone was recording more than 40 Covid-19 deaths a week, but recorded six in the most recent week. While every death is a tragic loss, the huge reduction in fatalities caused by Covid-19 is a hard-earned and welcome change.
As with the number of Covid-19 hospital patients, the reduction in deaths has been attributed to vaccinations, understanding of the virus and a slew of treatment options which can often ensure patients do not become severely unwell.
Berenice Groves, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer at the Chesterfield Royal Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust is extremely busy at the moment, along with the whole health system, however we continue to give our patients the best care possible and I would like to thank our hard-working colleagues for their continued dedication.
“We are working with our partners across Derbyshire to monitor the situation and we are grateful to our patients, visitors and colleagues for following important infection control safety measures by wearing a mask and washing their hands.
“To help relieve the pressure on our services, people should visit NHS111 online: (https://111.nhs.uk/), or call: 111 before coming to the emergency department unless their condition is serious or life-threatening.
“NHS 111 provides medical assessment quickly and if you do need urgent care then they can direct you to the quickest and most appropriate services.”
Gavin Boyle, the chief executive of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Emergency demand for our services continues to be extremely high, placing considerable pressure on our front-line emergency services such as our A&Es and the medical and surgical assessment units.
“Thankfully, the presence of Covid-19 remains steady, with around 60 patients at RDH and QHB and with comparatively few requiring the most acute care in our intensive care units.
“Nevertheless, the continued presence of Covid-19 means that most of our infection control measures must remain in place."