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Worrying news has emerged that a third covid wave might result in a drastically higher level of covid-positive inpatients than at the start of the current outbreak.

This has redoubled fears that the service could be overwhelmed during the January-February “winter pressures” period and again have to halt elective and non-urgent work in many areas.

The second wave began in early September with 425 covid patients in English hospitals. The number peaked at 13,767 on 23 November. The latest data from 6 December shows this has fallen to 12,241, a fall of 1,526 over the intervening 13 days. Should the rate of decline continue at this rate, the number of covid positive patients would drop by around 3,000 to approximately 9,000 on 31 December.

Even an acceleration to the faster rate of decline seen during the first wave would still see the English NHS end the year with approximately 6,000 covid patients.

Services braced for more strain

New projections have revealed the pressure that mental health trusts could be under due to the covid-19 pandemic.

According to NHS England forecasts, demand for adult services could rise by 40 per cent and young people’s services by 60 per cent in a ‘worst case scenario’.

The peer-reviewed research, led by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation Trust, also predicted pressures on services for older people and people with learning disabilities would increase from pre-pandemic levels.

According to the modelling, the surge in demand would be driven by people’s experiences during the lockdowns.

The trust expects considerable demand increases due to the pandemic, but it hopes to avoid the worst case scenario by hiring more staff and system working.