Andy Burnham says Greater Manchester “is as prepared as it can be” for the levels of coronavirus cases in London in the next fifteen days, when heads of the capital’s hospital warned of a “tsunami” of cases threatened to overwhelm their system in a few days.
The region is thought to be about two weeks behind the numbers recorded in London, which represents a quarter of deaths so far.
Chris Hopson, chief executive officer of the NHS Provider representative, said today that an “evil combination” of staff illness and soaring demand meant that the capital system faced a “continuous tsunami” of cases, with a additional capacity used “very, very quickly”.
Estimates leave the rest of the country weeks or even days behind London, however, and the Mayor of Greater Manchester moved last night to reassure the public that “everything possible” was being done to ensure that the local system was prepared.
But he also reiterated that businesses “shouldn’t make things more difficult than we should” by opening up when they shouldn’t.
“I think it is generally accepted that we are about ten days, two weeks behind London,” he said when asked by M.E.N. whether the region will be able to cope with a similar scenario.
“We have seen an increase in cases in the past two days.”
He added that work was underway to release people from the hospital where it is safe to do so in order to increase capacity, but that this was “ready for what will come”.
“I am very confident in colleagues who are working to plan capacity needs across the system and we will obviously have to keep an eye very, very closely, day after day,” he said.
“I am confident that the Greater Manchester NHS is as prepared as it could be, but that is why I go back to the point of not making things more demanding than we should be doing – and this is to reiterate this point about the cessation of non-essential work right now, because we shouldn’t create new coronavirus cases when there really isn’t any justification for what’s going on. “
He was speaking as politicians locally – and in London – warning that construction sites and many warehouses had to close to protect their workers and the general public, with many in Greater Manchester and elsewhere still insisting on staying open.
Burnham said he was “very supportive” of the position taken by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, who clashed with the government about the construction and other workers who did not receive the advice to stay home.
Earlier this week M.E.N. revealed that the Manchester convention complex could be used as a field hospital – similar to the new Nightingale hospital at London’s ExCel – and the mayor of Greater Manchester confirmed that the region “was examining every possible contingency” to find capacity extras, including the presentation of potential sites.
“It’s a big challenge for everyone and we’re doing everything we can,” he said, adding that it was essential that the NHS and other frontline workers have access to the tests, so that they can return to work when they are no longer able to. spread the disease.
This morning Chris Hopson, managing director of national health service providers, described in detail the pressure exerted by the London hospital system.
“They are struggling with the explosion of demand in seriously ill patients,” he told Radio 4.
“They are saying it is the number coming, the speed with which they arrive and how sick they are.
“They talk about wave after wave after wave. The words I used are that it’s a continuous tsunami.
“As I’ve been told, it’s a much bigger and bigger number with a greater stretch than you can ever imagine.”
He said hospital leaders were concerned that the extra available capacity would be “very, very quickly” used up, and the nightingale was also filling up “very, very quickly”.
Burnham said it is not possible to be certain of the resilience of the Greater Manchester system at this stage, but said that leaders here are doing “everything possible” to prepare.
“It is difficult to say at this point in time that everything is solved and it’s okay, because obviously this is a fast moving situation,” he added.
“But what I can say is that we are doing everything we can to put ourselves in the best possible position to face what lies ahead in the coming days and weeks.”