The number of patients with Covid-19 occupying hospital beds across Lancashire and South Cumbria is now higher than at the peak of the pandemic, new figures suggest.

NHS data showed that as of Thursday, 15 per cent of hospital beds (544) across our region were occupied by Covid-19 patients, which is about 20 more than during the April peak.

On October 1, figures from NHS England showed the number of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients in the four hospital trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria was 138 (35 at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, 28 at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, 33 at East Lancashire NHS Foundation Trust, and 42 at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust).

The number of mechanical ventilation beds occupied by Covid-19 patients within the four hospital trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria as of October 1 was 17.

However, data from October 20 shows this figure has almost quadrupled, as there are now 544 beds occupied by Covid-19 patients across Lancashire and South Cumbria, with around 42 of those patients needing mechanical ventilation.

The number of beds occupied by patients with Covid-19 at the height of the pandemic was around 520, with around 56 of those patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

Chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on behalf of hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria, Kevin McGee, said: “We are very concerned about the rising infection rates.

“We all need to be aware of this worsening local situation, our hospitals are under a huge amount of pressure.

“A the number of Covid-19 admissions are rising steeply, it is important we take action now to protect our hospitals.

“We want to emphasise that all hospitals within Lancashire and South Cumbria are working together and have worked to put strong escalation measures in place.

“Hospitals are following strict social distancing and hygiene measures to allow people to access care safely and we have temporarily restricted hospital visiting.

“We understand the frustrations this creates for patients and their families and appreciate their continued support.

“The more the virus spreads and increases Covid admissions, the less hospitals will be able to offer urgent elective surgeries.

“If necessary, our local hospitals will need to prioritise the most clinically urgent procedures - but we don’t want to do that, which is why we are asking local people to take action now and follow the government guidance to keep everyone safe and reduce the rate of infection in our local communities."

More than a quarter of beds (408) at the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust were occupied by Covid-19 patients, having never been above 400 in spring.

There were 685 patients in Manchester hospitals on Thursday, 11 per cent of the total beds available, with another 100 patients suspected of having the virus, with 62 patients being ventilated, and 522 needing oxygen.

Almost half of Liverpool’s mechanical ventilation beds – 29 out of 62 – are occupied by confirmed Covid patients and a third of those across the North West (178 of 556).

On the last day of April, 80,000 tests were being carried out, whereas the latest figure now shows 310,000 test are being done in a single day.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “By testing more people, we’re going to find more of the positive cases that we previously couldn’t.

“Although there were only 5,000 cases (roughly) each day in April, no scientific estimate believes that was actually the true number of cases.

“The rate of cases to hospitalisations would likely be a lot more closely aligned if we knew the true number of cases during March/April.”