ONE of England's largest hospitals has cancelled all its planned operations for 48 hours due to a lack of beds in intensive care.
Rising Covid admissions have meant Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital has reached full capacity, with no room for elective surgery patients.
The hospital, which has more than 1,100 beds, has put dozens of procedures scheduled on hold – including lifesaving liver transplants.
It is so busy that its intensive care unit, one of the largest in Europe, was completely full on Thursday, with 10 patients in the wider hospital on a critical care bed 'watch list'.
Doctors were left unable to offer any spare beds to these patients, or any others needing one post-surgery.
A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham Trust said it had no choice but to cancel and reschedule operations "as a result of the number of very sick patients requiring emergency care".
"This is also contributed to by increasing numbers of inpatients with Covid requiring critical care," they added.
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The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals run by the trust has shot up 50 per cent since Monday, The Independent reports.
There are now 166 receiving treatment, with 30 in intensive care – up from 19 at the start of the week.
On top of the bed shortages, there is also a major staff shortage, with 1,091 absent.
Of those, 275 were either self-isolating or had tested positive for coronavirus.
Ian Sharp, deputy medical director at the trust, said the it was experiencing a "perfect storm" which could get even worse over the summer.
He said: “The pressure at the front door, whether its people who should be able to access care elsewhere, or people with Covid, or people with other acute issues, flooding our front door makes it very difficult to function effectively.
“We don't wish to cancel any operations, certainly not on the day of surgery or the day before, and especially not cancer operations, but the reality is that we have to sometimes reconsider cases that require ITU or a certain high level of post-operative care.”
Hospitals across the country are reaching breaking point as Covid admissions increase.
More than 500 are being admitted each day, with 3,786 currently receiving treatment.
New infections are also rising, with the UK recording today 51,870 – the highest number for six months.
Experts now fear lifting lockdown on July 19, dubbed 'Freedom Day', will make the situation even worse.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has predicted cases could breach the 100,000 mark, while England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty has warned the number of people being treated in hospital with Covid could reach "quite scary" levels within weeks.
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