RESEARCHERS have described the Isle of Wight's only hospital, St Mary's in Newport, as a 'hospital desert' — with too few resources to cope with the expected coronavirus demand.

From Oxford University's Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, a report published on Saturday, and illustrated on Sky News yesterday, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust was one of five places around England and Wales to be singled out as a potential 'hospital desert' which would be overwhelmed with the rapidly changing situation.

Northumberland, Rutland, Suffolk and Powys, in Wales, were the other four areas marked as 'hospital deserts'.

The report denotes how, with the Covid-19 outbreak currently growing and using 'recently estimated pandemic modelling in the UK', hospitalisation rates for those over 80 would 'rise sharply, reaching 27.3 per cent' per 1,000 beds.

When the researchers 'assumed an infection rate of ten per cent', they observed 'very high pressures' for the Isle of Wight — with an excess general hospital bed need of 8.5 per 1,000 and critical care bed of 3.6 per 1,000.

One of the aims of the report was to illustrate the importance of examining the availability of hospital and critical care beds in relation to the risks Covid-19 poses.

NHS hospitals have been advised to cancel all non-urgent operations from April for the next three months to create space, with other measures introduced including discharging patients as soon as they are medically fit.

The government has also implemented the closure of restaurants, pubs and other public gathering spaces to try and stop the spread of the virus — however, some members of the public havenot heeded the warning.

Chief executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Maggie Oldham, has urged everyone to work together and help the NHS by following the national guidance.

She said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, staff and the wider community is our top priority.

"The NHS is here for you, but we need all of you to help us.

“Everyone should follow the national guidance on social distancing and self-isolation and stay at home wherever possible, to help limit the spread of coronavirus. This will help to protect the most vulnerable people in our community and ensure that the NHS can cope with what is coming.

“This is a worrying time for all of us. But by working together and treating one another with compassion and respect, we can rise to meet the challenges ahead of us.”