Could rural hospitals struggle to cope with influx of staycationers?

Could rural hospitals struggle to cope with influx of staycationers? NHS boss fears Britons holidaying at home this summer will overburden medical units in tourist hotspots

  • Britons going on staycations risk overburdening local hospitals this summer
  • Tourists in hotspots such as Lake District and Cornwall could increase demand
  • Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, warned they’re at ‘full stretch’

Britons going on staycations this summer risk overburdening hospitals in tourist hotspots, warned an NHS boss.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said even a small increase in Covid-19 patients would create ‘significant extra demand’ in areas such as the Lake District, Cornwall and the South Coast.

He also called for a debate on the ‘trade-offs’ which might be needed should the country open up completely on June 21.

Britons going on staycations this summer risk overburdening local hospitals in tourist hotspots such as the Lake District and Cornwall (Pictured: Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, Cornwall)

Mr Hopson was not explicit in what he meant but such trade-offs could include restrictions on foreign travel to prevent new variants coming in.

And although he didn’t specifically tell Britons not to go on staycations, he sounded a note of caution on the potential impact of large numbers of tourists flocking to the same areas. But many thousands of families are looking forward to holidays in the UK as they are unlikely to go abroad.

Mr Hopson, whose organisation represents hospitals and ambulance services, said the NHS was ‘working full pelt’ to deal with the backlog of treatments postponed during the pandemic as well as a growing demand for urgent care from patients who had put of seeking help during the lockdown. 

‘Hospitals are really under pressure at the moment,’ he told the BBC. ‘Given these pressures, even a small increase in Covid-19 patients makes a big difference.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, (pictured) said even a small increase in Covid-19 patients would create ‘significant extra demand’

‘Trust leaders in popular holiday areas are concerned about the impact of “staycationers” in the coming months, creating significant extra demand when they’re already at full stretch.’

But on a positive note, Mr Hopson said the patients in hospital with Covid were younger and less seriously ill compared to last year.

Meanwhile, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, said June 21 was ‘too early’ to lift all the restrictions.

She told Sky News: ‘I really think that it is too early to be charging ahead. I think to avoid more preventable deaths… we really need to be cautious at the current time.’

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