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Hospital trusts across West Yorkshire and Harrogate are warning of extreme pressures on hospital services as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in the region.

The need to isolate patients with Covid-19 from other parts of the hospital means that rising inpatient cases impacts on the number of available beds.  This, combined with rising levels of Covid-related staff sickness, means that some patients are facing delays to planned treatment and procedures.

Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments across all hospitals in West Yorkshire and Harrogate are extremely busy and some patients are having to wait a long time to be seen, whilst the treatment of those with life-threatening illness or serious injury is prioritised.

The West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT), which is the official name of the six hospital trusts working together in West Yorkshire and Harrogate, is urging people to only attend Accident and Emergency departments in genuine, life-threatening emergencies or in the case of serious injury.

The advice comes as the WYAAT hospital trusts publish their most recent data showing the number of inpatients with Covid-19 across the region has more than doubled since 25th June 2022*.

Dr Phil Wood, Chief Medical Officer at The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“The significant upsurge in Covid-19 cases in West Yorkshire and Harrogate means that our hospitals are facing extreme pressures. Our teams are doing everything they can to make sure that services are safe and, in some cases, planned treatment may need to be postponed.

“We are aware that some people have been waiting for planned operations for a very long time and, wherever possible, we will ensure these go ahead as planned.

“Thankfully, the number of very seriously ill people needing treatment in Intensive Care for Covid-19 is very small and accounts for less than two per cent of total inpatient cases. The Covid-19 vaccine is very effective at preventing severe disease in those who have been immunised and I’d encourage anyone who has not yet had their vaccine to book an appointment through the website.”

Dr Sal Uka, Consultant Paediatrician at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and Medical Lead at the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts, said:

“The heatwave we are currently experiencing is adding further pressure on our hospitals and I would urge people to limit their exposure to the sun and to keep hydrated to prevent heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

“People can help reduce pressure on their local hospital by choosing the right service for their needs and only attending A&E or calling 999 for genuine, life-threatening illness or serious injury. NHS 111 Online can help people get the right advice or treatment they need, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Patients and visitors should not be coming to hospital if they have any Covid-19 symptoms.”