"The hospital is on fire and things are getting scary as more and more wards are engulfed"

These are the words of Professor John Wright, public health doctor and Director of the Bradford Institute of Health Research at the BRI, on the intensifying coronavirus crisis in the district's hospitals.

In a diary for the BBC, alongside the 'NHS Front Line' Radio 4 programme, he explains that the number of in-patients acutely ill with Covid-19 has overtaken the hospital's peak at Easter time.

More than 200 members of staff are off sick while the school half term means clinicians are taking breaks or caring for their families at home.

Comparing the lives of NHS staff now to the lockdown period, he warned that many staff members are experiencing "weariness and fatigue" as the spirit of togetherness wanes and social and economic challenges arise.

Professor Wright told how one colleague described the chaos on their wards as "Groundhog day without the adrenaline".

What the numbers show (refers to Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust):

  • Total number tested positive to date – 1,879
  • Total number tested negative to date – 26,912
  • Confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients currently inpatient Trust-wide – 132
  • Confirmed COVID-19 patients discharged (to date) to their usual place of residence or no longer being treated as COVID-19 – 1,095
  • Confirmed COVID-19 patients currently in ICU – 10
  • Total COVID-19 deaths to date – 314

Professor Wright explains: "Bonfire night and Halloween have come early in Bradford. The hospital is on fire and things are getting scary as more and more wards are engulfed.

"As with the first wave in March, the surge in cases came gradually and then suddenly. We have 130 in-patients acutely ill with Covid-19, overtaking our peak at Easter. Fifty patients were admitted in the space of 48 hours. The pressures of finding beds and staff are huge. Over 200 staff are off sick and the school half term has compounded the situation as our clinicians take much-needed breaks or just child-mind at home.

"It is all so familiar, and yet at the same time all so different. In March we had emptied out the wards to become a dedicated Covid-19 isolation hospital. This time we have our normal flow of patients admitted with seasonal infections and acute exacerbations of chronic diseases, while also trying to maintain some of our urgent elective surgery.

"In March there was a call to arms and all staff rallied around the flag. This time there is a weariness and fatigue. 'Groundhog day without the adrenaline,' as one of my colleagues described it.

"I sympathise with the anti-lockdown advocates. The economic and social damage from the pandemic is going to be catastrophic, and probably outweigh the clinical impact of the virus. However, when you see patients fighting for their lives, drowning in air, it reinforces the primacy of our humanity and compassion. Above all we must care for our patients, protect the NHS from being overwhelmed and speak up to prevent transmission."