Why North West Ambulance bosses told paramedics to leave patients at the door
Plus the latest Covid-19 data in GM, and the rest of the weekly briefing
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing, which is packed with things to do this week, great reading recommendations and the latest Covid-19 data in Greater Manchester. Plus, we take a quick look into why ambulance staff were told to leave patients at the doors of some local hospitals.
Before that: If you’re free on Thursday night, please do join us for our Christmas Concert at St Ann’s Church. Reserve your tickets by clicking here. It’s a fundraiser for the church’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund and for The Mill too, and it will be a lovely evening, including a few sing-along carols like O come O come Emmanuel, While Shepherds Watched and Oh Come All Ye Faithful. The whole Mill team will be there and we look forward to meeting you afterwards.
Bear in mind: the church will not be at full capacity, so if you would prefer to have a bit of space around you, that will be possible.
Millers’ Carols at St Ann’s, Thursday 16th December, 7.30pm. Book now by clicking here.
This week’s weather ⛅️
Our forecast comes from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says: “High pressure will gradually build in from the south this week, allowing for mostly dry conditions and light winds to develop. Fog could become troublesome later in the week as we find ourselves under the centre of the high-pressure system.”
Monday ☁️ Cloudy with patchy rain slowly edging north. Northern areas may stay dry until late in the day. Highs of 11°c.
Tuesday ⛅️ Dry with brief periods of hazy sunshine, accompanied by light south westerly winds. Less mild. Highs of 9°c.
Wednesday ⛅️ Dry and mild with occasional spells of winter sunshine. Turning foggy overnight. Highs of 12°c.
Thursday ☁️ A foggy start for many, followed by mostly cloudy conditions. Highs of 10°c.
Friday 🌫 Cloudy with patchy fog, especially early and late. Highs of 8°c.
Weekend 🥶 Remaining settled, but often murky and chilly.
For the full forecast, visit Manchester Weather. Updates are posted daily at 6.15am.
Our latest podcast episode features Nigel Ashworth, the rector of St Ann’s Church. He’s a true Manchester character, and he tells some wonderful stories about his life in the city and his career as one of its leading churchmen. Click here to get it on your favourite podcast app, or click on the Apple Podcasts player below.
The big story: Manchester hospitals left patients at the door
Top line: At the end of last month, bosses at North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) told paramedics to leave patients at A&E after 15 minutes at four GM hospitals, regardless of whether clinical care had been handed over to hospital staff.
Context: NWAS and other ambulance trusts already have national handover targets of 15 minutes. However, at times of peak demand, handovers can be delayed, giving paramedics less time to attend other calls. When the decision was made to leave patients when handover times were delayed, NWAS had 538 emergency 999 calls waiting for a response, according to the Sunday Times. 224 of those calls were potentially life-threatening.
A very limited time: According to NWAS, the action was taken to avoid disaster on an evening of particularly high demand. Chris Grant, medical director at NWAS, told the Sunday Times:
We took this action for a very limited time to help deal with a significant spike in demand, but can confirm no patients were left where there was any clinical concern, and none were adversely affected.
It has been confirmed that the four hospitals where this order was implemented were Oldham, Bolton, Wythenshawe and North Manchester General.
In interviews with the MEN, senior paramedics have expressed bewilderment and anger at the decision: "There is no way we'd leave a poorly patient if we haven't handed over within 15 minutes,” said one. “Are we supposed to put patients on the floor? I wouldn't do it, I couldn't walk away from a patient.”
The broader picture: Manchester’s healthcare infrastructure, like the rest of the country’s, is under high strain. Covid-19 continues to restrict bed capacity while large numbers of patients described as “acutely unwell” are arriving at hospitals requiring urgent care. This is unlikely to improve in the shadow of “a tidal wave of Omicron” — to quote the prime minister.
According to the latest data from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, primary care services in GM are also struggling.
Of the 423 GP practices in GM using the “pulse check” system – which rates levels of demand — the majority, around 60%, report to be under increased demand.
28% are reporting a significant increase in demand, and 10 practices have reported such a demand increase as to need extra support.
The overload of GPs inevitably bleeds into emergency care departments. In turn, overloaded emergency departments and ambulance trusts are forced to take measures like those on the 30th of November, when the order was made.
Bottom line: According to NWAS, the strategy was a success. They are now working with the Care Quality Commission to introduce the order as “a standardised policy in times of further extreme demand.”
Know something about this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Home of the week
This stunning terraced house in Bury has five floors and lots of original features inside. It’s on the market for £499,000.
Case rates: Cases are rising again in Greater Manchester, but they aren’t yet surging. The case rate for Greater Manchester is 443.6, up 14.1% in a week compared to England’s 515, up 5.6%. Trafford has the highest infection rate in GM, about 600. Oldham has the lowest, around the 300-mark. See our dashboard below.
Hospitalisations: As of 6th December there were 47 Covid-19 patients in critical care in GM’s hospitals, down by one from the previous week. The total number of Covid patients in our hospitals minus critical care is 307, down from 310.
Vaccinations: 75% of adults (just over 1.8 million people) in GM have now received two doses of a Covid jab. That’s 93% of over-70s, 87% of 50-69s and 65% of 18-49s. As of the beginning of last week, 80% of over-70s in GM had received a booster dose, and 32% of adults had overall.
Boosters: There were very long queues across St Peter’s Square this afternoon as people got in line to get their booster jabs. Just before we sent this briefing, our reader Louise wrote on Twitter: “I'm sort of in the middle of a U-shaped queue that's snaked across St Peter's Square and back again. I started queuing at around 15:15h near Central Library, have reached the cenotaph nearly an hour and a half later.”
Other local news in brief
An inquest has found that a mentally ill man who died in 2019 was unlawfully killed. 29-year-old Gavin Brown died after being placed in a chokehold outside a pub in Stretford. Mr Brown had paranoid schizophrenia but was managing the condition with medication. His family is unhappy with how GMP has handled the case. "From the beginning, it has felt like Gavin's life did not matter and we did not matter,” his sister told BBC North West Tonight. Read more.
Police have launched an appeal after a 20-year-old man went missing at the weekend after attending the Warehouse Project at Mayfield Depot. Charley Gadd was last seen on Saturday at about midnight on Deansgate. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency and quote log 149 of 11/12/2021. Read more.
Metrolink is considering returning to a reduced Covid timetable, following the government’s new guidance on working from home. Bus operator Go North West is also looking at cutting its services. Read more.
Photo of the week
A nun in a Christmas party hat tucks into a festive lunch as she accompanies old folk to a party in Salford, circa 1980. Photo: Martin O'Neill/Redferns.
Our favourite reads
Supermodel Karen Elson on fashion’s toxic truth — The Guardian
We enjoyed this interview with supermodel Karen Elson, who has been a muse for the likes of fashion photographer Tim Walker and has appeared in Vogue. “Elson has never been a cookie-cutter beauty queen. Growing up in Oldham, ‘with frizzy red hair and ghost-white skin and no boobs’ at a time when every teenage boy she knew had a poster of Cindy Crawford on his wall, she kept her early modelling ambitions quiet.”
“U Want Me 2 Kill Him?” — Vanity Fair
This is the story of a stabbing that took place in Altrincham in 2003 — but the circumstances around it included a “bizarre chat-room fantasy world” and the victim was a gifted fabricator. “Sometimes, as night falls over Greater Manchester, the ingenious adolescent returns to the place where he was stabbed last year, when he was 14. The boy is tall for his age, but slight, with olive skin, a long crooked nose, and dark, intelligent eyes framed by thick black brows poised for flight.”
The ghosts of our motel — Vox
Author Sabaa Tahir shares her experiences of being the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and growing up in a motel in a Californian desert. Before settling there, her parents had lived in Manchester, among other places. “Loss of family. Loss of health. Loss of years. For my parents, the town — and specifically the motel — was a type of purgatory. Until then, they had lived in huge metropolises, in Manchester and London and Benghazi and Lahore.”
The Honeymoon Murder — Atavist Magazine
“It was about eight o’clock in the morning when police converged on the minivan. As wind whipped sand off a nearby sweep of dunes, the officers opened the rear right-side door and peered in. Lying across the backseat was the body of a young woman, soaked in blood.” A husband, who studied in Manchester, is a prime suspect in his wife’s murder after a terrible hijacking in Cape Town.
Our to do list
🎼 Carols | Millers’ Carols at St Ann’s is happening on Thursday. It’s going to be an evening of candlelight, music and readings. Book tickets here
🍷 Eat | If you fancy some cheese and wine tasting, the Castlefield Hotel will be hosting the Northern Wine School on Friday. Enjoy six wines from around the world, paired with artisanal cheese. Book here.
📚 Local history | Calling all archive enthusiasts, Salford Museum and Art Gallery is inviting you to book a slot for visiting. You’ll be able to access newspapers, directories and early voter lists. Book here.
🥘 Supper club | The Butcher’s Quarter, a deli and artisan butchers, is holding a supper club this Friday. They’ll be serving some of their finest products with wine pairings from Reserve Wines, an indy wine shop in Didsbury. More here.
🎨 Art | Manchester Art Gallery’s audio guide invites you to sit down and connect with its art. The gallery has four guided mindfulness sessions, which are accessible online. More here.
🎶 Concert | Kantos Chamber Choir will be performing at Christ Church in West Didsbury this Saturday. The concert will be filled with old-time Christmas carol favourites. Book here.
🎧 Podcast | Argh Kid — aka David Scott — the poet who's captured the imagination of Mancunians features on this episode of We Built This City podcast. Listen here.
Book of the week: Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain by Kevin Cummins
Here’s another photo book for those of you looking for stocking fillers. During his career, Manchester photographer Kevin Cummins has snapped some giants of the music industry. Here’s a taster of what’s inside:
Whether it be on a rain-soaked stage in Brazil, a rented room in Whalley Range, or on the dancefloor of the legendary Hacienda, Kevin Cummins' exquisite photographs capture the anarchic energy of the Manchester pop moment.
Looking for the Light is available to buy here.