• Joseph Lu

Intensive Care Occupancy

An update to this blog can be found here: https://www.covid-arg.com/post/a-close-shave

The "Freedom Day" relaxing of restrictions on 19 July is set against the background of a more resilient highly vaccinated population, with a better prepared NHS and ICU occupancy which is typically lower in the summer. But increased movement will increase the spread of COVID-19.

It is important to track the impact on the NHS, which in turn affects mortality and policy decisions. Mechanical Ventilation (MV) bed occupancy is one useful indicator. In our earlier bulletin Nicola Oliver discussed how the need for staff with sufficient expertise for ICU treatment make capacity limits relatively inflexible in the short term.

647 MV beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients on 21 July, the last date for which data is available. The average rate of increase in UK MV bed occupancy was about 3.5% over the last month.

If the recent rate of increase were to continue we could expect to exceed the occupancy levels at which we initiated the first and second national lockdowns within two weeks, and the level at which December's national Tier 4 restrictions were introduced within four weeks.

If the rate of increase were to reduce by half, MV bed occupancy would exceed the levels of the first two lockdowns by mid-August.

Intensive Care wards are at risk of strain if current trends continue.

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