Published: 10:40, 08 January 2021
| Updated: 12:52, 08 January 2021
A hospital continues to be at "full stretch" with Covid-19 patients amid reports of the highest emergency alert level for critical care being raised.
Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford was reported to be at “CRITCON level four” yesterday, according to data from an internal NHS dashboard for critical care reported by trade publication, the Health Service Journal (HSJ).
It prompted concerns the hospital may have to refuse or withdraw critical care due to resource limitation, amid the mounting pressures of Covid-19 related admissions.
But Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust later responded to say this declaration was an "administrative error".
A statement said: "The trust is not and has never been in CRITCON level four.”
CRITCON level four is the highest possible alert level and means the trust’s resources are “overwhelmed”.
If a hospital reaches this "last resort" stage it means its may lead to staff having to choose which critically ill patients to treat.
But such declarations are rare according to NHS England (NHSE) guidelines which say they mean: “Resources overwhelmed. Possibility of triage by resource (non-clinical refusal or withdrawal of critical care due to resource limitation).”
It is understood a decision to place a Trust at this level can only be taken with the recommendation and approval of NHSE.
The Trust, which manages Darent Valley Hospital, confirmed to KentOnline this morning it remained at CRITCON 3 – meaning wards are at "full stretch" and operating at or near maximum capacity. As of yesterday it had reported a total of 389 Covid-19 related deaths.
According to the data reported by HSJ yesterday three other hospitals in Kent – Maidstone, Medway Maritime and Tunbridge Wells were also at CRITCON level 3 alongside Darent Valley.
Kent and Canterbury Hospital, QEQM in Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford were listed as at CRITCON 2.
Kent continues to be a focal point of the pandemic in the UK ever since a new more transmittable "mutant" strain was reported to have originated in the county, amid rising infections and hospitalisations.
It comes as it was revealed 1 in 3 people in Kent and Medway have had coronavirus and that hospitals across the county continue to struggle to cope with the rising number of patients.
On New Years Eve it was reported how seriously ill coronavirus patients were being transferred as far away as Devon, Bristol and Leeds, after hospital wards reached capacity for critically ill patients.