AROUND 360 Covid-19 patients were being treated in the Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals as of yesterday afternoon.

That's an increase of more than 100 in five days.

Three additional area at RBH have been turned over to Covid treatment including the respiratory and short stay surgical wards.

Medical Director for Medicine for University Hospitals, Dr Tristan Richardson told the Echo last night it was "an ongoing onslaught."

He added: "It looks as though our predictions that we'll need 600 Covid beds across the two sites will be sadly accurate."

A young man in his 20s died with Covid and underlying health conditions at the weekend in Bournemouth, which had been especially devastating for nursing staff.

Dr Richardson revealed that while many patients were elderly, a number of people in their 50s and 60s are being treated in intensive care.

He said: "The vaccination programme won't help ease the immense pressure in ICU for several months because these age groups won't be vaccinated for some time.

"The strains on medical staff are massive. We are delivering safe care, but at the cost of working harder, longer and more stress than ever before in this pandemic.

"Staff are tired, stressed and they worry about what the next shift or the next will bring and at the moment do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. A number are suffering from PTSD, I know that for a fact.

A consultant endocrinologist, Dr Richardson said the pressure on the ambulance service was huge.

"Because the emergency departments are silting up, the ambulances are waiting longer outside with patients onboard."

One person waited 18 hours for ambulance this week, such is the pressure on the system.

On lockdown he added: "The vaccines won't get us out of trouble for months. The only way to deal this right now is an effective lockdown."