MP Ben Bradshaw hopes Exeter and the rest of Devon and Cornwall will avoid being placed in Tier 3, despite mounting Covid pressures at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
The first Covid-19 patients are being transferred from the RD&E to the 116-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital in Sowton this morning.
The Labour MP for Exeter says that being placed in the highest tier would be ‘unfair’ on the local community despite the hospital pressures.
He said there’s “a problem with Covid infection inside the RD&E” with the hospital facing greater pressures now than in the first wave.
“Local NHS bosses have been wanting to do this for weeks due to growing Covid pressures within hospitals but they didn’t have the staff to do so,” said Mr Bradshaw.
“Six and a half per cent of my local hospital staff are off at the moment because they’ve got Covid themselves or they’re self-isolating.
“So I’m very pleased the local NHS has managed to find the staff to staff this hospital [NHS Nightingale Exeter] to take the pressure off RD&E and other local hospitals in Devon which are seeing a worse peak now then they did back in the spring.
“We have around 125 Covid patients in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital – five whole wards – there’s a problem with Covid infection inside the hospital.
“One of the reasons the hospital is very keen to get Covid patients out into the Nightingale is not only to address that problem but also to help ease the pressure on other services that have been put on hold.
“Elective care has been put on hold at the moment because of the pressures.
“Fortunately we’re not seeing the same level of deaths and need for intensive care as we did in the first wave but the pressures are greater now than they were in the spring.”
Asked if Exeter and the rest of Devon could be placed in Tier 3, the highest tier possible, Mr Bradshaw said: “I hope not.
“If you look at the overall figures for Exeter and the wider Devon area they are very low – half the UK average and coming down.
“It would be extremely unfortunate that due to acute pressures at one or two hospitals we were not in the tier we should be in.
“If there is anywhere in Tier 1 then it should be parts of the South West.
“But again our tier should not be skewed by local capacity issues on certain hospitals. That would be very unfair on the rest of the county.”