‘Stay at home on New Year’s Eve to protect NHS’, intensive medic urges Brits

Brits have been urged to stay at home on New Year's Eve by an intensive care doctor amid growing pressure on the NHS.

People are being warned the "dire" coronavirus situation in hospitals will get ever worse for overworked healthcare staff.

The Intensive Care Society's Dr Zudin Puthucheary, who works at the Royal London Hospital, thinks staff will have to deal with another peak in Covid-19 admissions after households in some areas were allowed to mix on Christmas Day.

He said: "Don't celebrate New Year's Eve with big groups of people, don't go to the pub – this is the big thing that will help us.

"We know that you'll end up critically ill 10 to 14 days after your Covid infection really kicks in, so if we're going to have to deal with the Christmas peak, we don't need a New Year's Eve peak.

"And more importantly, our patients don't need them – they could end up with us at the peak of this.

"Stay home, celebrate at home and then there'll be an opportunity to celebrate and see people later on."

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Almost all the pubs and restaurants in England are now shut after the latest changes to the tiering system, except for the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall, but there is fear different households will gather to see in the new year.

This would put more pressure on intensive care units with the situation in England currently "pretty dire", with reports that patients are being treated in ambulances due to overcrowding.

Dr Puthucheary said a "huge number of patients" are "coming in rapidly" and numbers are rising in "every hospital".

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He said: "These patients are sick. They need intensive care, they need all our support, and so we don't have the staff to look after them.

"And the staff we do have are running ragged because they've been doing this all along, they've been doing this since March."

The highly contagious new strain of coronavirus has caused the infection rate to surge, and from New Year's Eve almost all of England will be under either a Tier 3 or Tier 4 lockdown.

Dr Puthucheary says he is focused on trying to "get through the next two weeks", but remains worried about the effect a New Year's Eve blowout will have on the infection rate.

He added: "We also really worry that people will go out and we'll have all the same New Year's Eve troubles we always have – like all the traumas, all the fights and all the alcohol around – which will overload our emergency departments and overload our intensive care departments.

"Worry defines where we sit right now."

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