Hospitals seeing rise in patients 'as young as 30', intensive care doctor warns

George Martin
·3-min read
Ambulances parked outside the ExCeL in east London which is the site of one of a number of Nightingale hospitals prepared last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and which the NHS says is being reactivated and made ready to admit patients as hospitals in the capital struggle as Covid patients numbers rise.
Ambulances parked outside the ExCeL in east London which is the site of one of a number of Nightingale hospitals. (PA)

People “as young as 30” are being admitted to intensive care because of coronavirus, a senior doctor has warned

Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said the NHS in London and its surrounding areas are “under immense pressure at the moment” to look after both patients and staff.

But she said that in contrast to the first wave, there had been a massive rise in younger patients being admitted to intensive care.

Asked on the BBC’s Andew Marr Show whether she had noticed a change in the age profile of coronavirus patients, Dr Pittard said: “I think actually the age group is a lot lower than it was in the first wave.

A man wearing a face mask walk past the NHS COIVD-19 public information campaign poster in London. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told London MPs that the capital will be moved into tier three COVID-19 restrictions imminently following a sharp rise in coronavirus infection rates. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A man wearing a face mask walk past the NHS public information campaign poster in London. (PA)

“I think that’s probably because more people are getting COVID and it is affecting younger people. And perhaps younger people are actually realising how serious it is.

“But we are still seeing older patients, we’re treating the whole age range - so that’s not changed. But yes, it does affect younger people so just because you’re not in the older age bracket, it doesn’t mean that you’re immune to this disease.”

“I have heard reports of people as young as 30 to 35 being in intensive care with COVID. And obviously the younger you are the better your body is coping with the disease.

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“But still younger people will die from COVID because we never know how people are going to respond to it.”

Dr Pittard warned that staff being "very, very tired" is becoming a major concern for the effectiveness of treatment.

In comparing the current situation with the worst days of the first wave, she added: "One of the downsides is that because we have been through it all before staff are very, very tired and that is the thing that concerns me.

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"We can't just create staff overnight. We can get more drugs. We can get more beds and equipment but we can't just get more staff, so that is the real concern this time around."

Having dealt with the first wave of the virus, staff are now better prepared in terms of how they manage patients when they come into hospital and how their treatment in intensive care, she said.

"It is almost like we know what is coming our way so we know how to deal with it."

Dr Pittard said the NHS is trying to continue with its other services and treat patients while also dealing with the second coronavirus wave.

She continued: "One of the things I would like to tell the public is that if you have any concerns, whether it is about Covid or not, you must seek advice and help.

"We plan to continue as much normal activity as possible but of course some of the non-urgent stuff will still need to be postponed."

She said there are "logistical issues" with using the Nightingale hospitals, some of which have been used to support diagnostic services.