As Covid-19 Pressure Mounts, U.K. Hospitals Find Pandemic Paradox

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As Covid-19 Pressure Mounts, U.K. Hospitals Find Pandemic Paradox

LONDON—U.K. hospitals are under unprecedented stress as a fast-spreading coronavirus variant tears across the country, with the pressure intensified as doctors say they are saving more lives, meaning more hospital beds are in use.

The more-contagious virus variant has led to record numbers of hospitalizations and stretched the government-run National Health Service to its limits in some parts of the country. As they handle the surge, medical practitioners are seeking to reduce fatalities in a number of ways, guided by the hard lessons of the spring.

They have established protocols so that elderly people carrying the virus don’t get sent from hospitals into nursing homes, where last spring such moves seeded the spread of the virus that killed thousands. They use improved treatments for Covid-19 that are keeping more people alive.

Meantime, they have continued with elective surgeries so that people with serious conditions such as cancer receive procedures. That also means more hospital beds are occupied.

The downside: hospitals are even fuller and under more pressure than they were last spring.

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