Medics will feel pressured for “weeks and months” as the fight against coronavirus intensifies, a hospital trust chief executive has said.
The BBC TV Panorama documentary team has been allowed access to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, which saw its first Covid-19 cases in January.
This weekend, three people treated at the hospital died from the virus.
And medics told the programme the public had a moral responsibility to act upon government advice.
Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, told Panorma: “I think we’re behind the wave, we’re absolutely predicting that this time next week the picture will be completely changed for us in Newcastle and continue to feel pressured there for what we know is weeks and months, potentially.”
The hospital, one of Public Health England’s principal high-consequence infectious disease centres, has increased its number of beds with ventilators.
Hospital workers told the programme they were doing everything they could to face the crisis head on.
Dr Sarah Platt, consultant in the Intensive Care Unit, said: “I certainly feel comfortable that we go well above and beyond our usual capacity and I absolutely know that this hospital will move heaven and earth to try and meet that demand.”
Cyrus Kerawala, a consultant head and neck surgeon working elsewhere in the NHS, admitted he had been annoyed to see people going about their daily lives as normal.
He said: “I was initially frustrated but in the end angry to see people wandering the streets, sitting in cafes, sitting in bars, sitting in pubs.
“I think that the knowledge that healthcare professionals are quite literally putting their lives on the line should really mean that members of the public should have a moral responsibility.
“There is no doubt that as health care professionals in the front line we are exposed to increased risk and we are starting to see that permeating through colleagues.”
BBC Panorama Coronavirus: The Week That Changed Britain is shown at 8.30pm on BBC One.