PM issues warning over intensive care beds in stand-off with Greater Manchester mayor

Greater Manchester’s entire intensive care unit (ICU) capacity will be taken up with coronavirus patients in less than a month “if nothing changes” in the region, Downing Street has warned.

A spokesman for the prime minister also said coronavirus cases tripled in the area over a two-week period – as the government remains in a stand-off with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham over plans to impose Tier 3 restrictions in the region.

Boris Johnson’s spokesman said in a statement on Monday: “Cases in Greater Manchester continue to rise in the over 60 age group. Cases have tripled between 27 September and 12 October.

“Hospital admissions are doubling every nine days. Intensive care unit capacity (ICU) currently at 40% of the first wave maximum, given the two to three-week lag we expect that to worsen significantly.

“If nothing changes, we expect entire ICU capacity to be full of COVID patients by 8 November. Entire ‘surge’ ICU capacity in Greater Manchester to be taken up by 12 November.”

Image: Talks are continuing between the government and local leaders

Downing Street’s projection came after Mr Burnham told Sky News he is “not just going to roll over at the sight of a cheque”.

He added he was holding out for the government to pledge more help for workers and firms who would be affected by tougher restrictions.

More from Andy Burnham

Talks have been going on for several days – and broke out into acrimony at the end of last week – but they are continuing on Monday.

A senior minister put pressure on Mr Burnham and other local leaders to accept the area needs to move into England’s highest band of measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News’ Kay Burley a deal needs to be struck by the end of Tuesday or the government could step in and impose the restrictions unilaterally.

Meanwhile, data from the Greater Manchester Critical Care Network (GMCCN) suggested some of the region’s 12 hospitals were running out of space on Friday.

The figures showed the Stepping Hill Hospital and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust were operating at full capacity.

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Jenrick ‘hopeful’ of agreement on Manchester

It also showed the Royal Bolton Hospital was running at 94% capacity.

The figures show hospitals across Greater Manchester are operating at an average of 82% capacity.

The NHS said in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation with our hospital admissions, overall beds and ITU beds very, very closely.

Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital was at 87% capacity on Friday

Image: Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital was at 87% capacity on Friday

The NHS admitted the coronavirus crisis in Greater Manchester is 'serious' and cases are rising

Image: The NHS has admitted the coronavirus crisis in Greater Manchester is ‘serious’

“It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year and our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, both for COVID and for other reasons.”

A source at the GMCCN told Sky News the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.

A spokesperson for the NHS in the North West has said: “Coronavirus cases are rising and it is obviously a serious situation so it is vital everyone does what they can to control the virus.”

And Downing Street said on Monday cases among the over 60s in Manchester “continue to rise”, warning if no action is taken intensive care unit capacity will be full of COVID patients by 8 November, and surge capacity full four days later.

The figures emerged after Mr Burnham accused Boris Johnson of exaggerating the severity of the crisis in the region.

But there were reports of progress, with The Times saying the prime minister is ready to offer “tens of millions of pounds” to head off a revolt, while The Telegraph says it is more like £100m.

Image: The Greater Manchester mayor is in a stand-off with Westminster over its tiered status

Mr Burnham had written to Mr Johnson and other party leaders proposing a Commons debate and vote to “break the impasse” and establish a cross-party consensus on financial aid for Tier 3 areas.

Mr Jenrick suggested a deal was within reach, and claimed “the contours of an agreement are there”.

And he hinted parts of South and West Yorkshire could also be placed into the highest band of restrictions in England, telling Kay Burley “we’ll be discussing the same issues” with local politicians there.

In total, the UK recorded another 16,171 positive cases on Sunday and a further 150 COVID-related deaths.

That brings the total number of deaths to 43,579.

But separate figures from the UK’s statistic agencies suggest up to 58,500 people have died with the virus mentioned on their death certificate.

Watch and follow ‘Postcode Lockdown: A Divided Nation’ on Sky News from 9pm on Monday, as it examines which strategy is best for Britain