NHS data published today shows that out of the 3,227 patients on the capital’s Covid wards, 1,651 are not mainly sick with the disease. It means 52 per cent may have been admitted for something else, such as a broken leg.
The picture is similar nationally where 6,647 out of 15,026 Covid patients — or 44 per cent — are not primarily in hospital because of Covid.
And in another promising sign the number of beds occupied by patients primarily ill with the virus has fallen by about a quarter in London over the most recent week, despite the total number of Covid beds barely changing.
It suggests that NHS hospitalisation figures are no longer an accurate reflection of the current state of the crisis because they blur people admitted ‘with’ and ‘from’ Covid.
Experts have repeatedly called on hospital chiefs to differentiate between the two categories, saying it will allow for a better assessment of the real pressure of the virus on the health service.
The rising proportion of incidental admissions and lack of any uptick in critically ill patients has given Boris Johnson the confidence to start planning a ‘life with Covid’ strategy, and triggered top scientists to say the UK is on the brink of exiting the pandemic.
But senior NHS leaders warn that the country is still a few months away from living with the disease, while hospitals remain at risk of being overwhelmed.
It comes as a raft of studies showed the Omicron outbreak has peaked, which will only feed into the hospitalisation numbers and start to push them down.
MailOnline’s analysis showed that in London the number of patients on wards primarily ill with the disease had fallen by almost 500 patients in a week to 1,576 on January 11, the latest date available.
But the total number of patients on hospital wards suffering from Covid had barely changed, staying at around 3,200 beds occupied by those suffering from the disease.
The capital’s figures are being watched as a harbinger of what may be to come for the rest of the country because it was the first place to be hit by the new variant.
Britain is still far from starting to live with the virus, NHS boss warns
It is still ‘premature’ to talk about living with the virus, an NHS boss warned today.
Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers which represents hospital trusts, admitted the health service would return to a ‘new kind of normal’.
But she said it was still in the ‘middle phase’ between being overwhelmed and working at full capacity.
Ms Cordery told Times Radio: ‘I think there is considerable uncertainty still about how this will play out because levels come down in London, but they’re going up in the North West, they’re going up in the East of England, so we need to think really carefully about how it’s impacting, and impacting differently across the country.’
Asked whether the country was ready to live with the virus, she said it was ‘premature’ to shift to this strategy within the next few months.
Scientists say the UK is now on the verge of beating the pandemic and turning Covid into nothing more than a seasonal menace like the flu.
And Boris Johnson is understood to be drawing up a ‘living with Covid’ strategy to avoid the need for restrictions every winter.
But this isn’t expected to be published until the end of March at the earliest, when winter pressures will have subsided.
Across England, the region with the highest proportion of incidental Covid admissions — those who were not primarily admitted with the disease — was the South West.
Figures showed that 53 per cent of patients on its wards (678 out of 1,297 Covid patients) were not primarily ill with the disease.
It was followed by London (51.2 per cent), the Midlands (48.2 per cent, or 1,309 out of 2,717), and the North West (41.7 per cent, or 1,210 out of 2,899).
On the other end of the scale, the South West had the lowest proportion of Covid patients who were not primarily ill with the disease (32.8 per cent, or 270 out of 824), followed by the South East (34.2 per cent, or 517 out of 1,511), and the North East (39.7 per cent, or 1,012 out of 2,551).
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, an eminent statistician at Cambridge University, told MailOnline last week that the rise in incidental cases reflected ‘the huge number of infections’ at the moment.
He said: ‘The rise in the share of incidental Covid patients could be largely due to the increased rate of people catching Covid while in hospital.
‘But we have good evidence from other sources that, compared to Delta, Omicron tends to produce milder disease — although it can still affect some people badly.’
As of yesterday, official data shows there were 16,800 Covid patients in hospital, although this was far below the peak last winter of more than 33,000.
Experts and Tory MPs have called on the Government to differentiate between primary and secondary Covid patients in the daily figures for transparency.
Cambridge epidemiologist Dr Raghib Ali has previously told MailOnline that it would ‘not only helpful but in many ways essential’ in assessing the true pressure on the NHS.
And former World Health Organization adviser Professor Karol Sikora, from Buckingham University, has said it is ‘obvious’ these patients should be removed.
NHS England sources have insisted that even though not all Covid patients were initially admitted with the virus, they were still piling extra pressure onto health services.
This was because anyone who tests positive must be moved to a separate Covid ward, where they will require more specialist care from staff.
A senior NHS boss today warned that it was ‘premature’ to move towards living with the virus like flu because of the pressure hospitals are still under.
Ms Cordery admitted the health service was reaching a ‘new kind of normal’.
But she cautioned it was still in the ‘middle phase’ between being overwhelmed and working at full capacity.
Ms Cordery told Times Radio: ‘I think there is considerable uncertainty still about how this will play out because levels come down in London.
‘But they’re going up in the North West, they’re going up in the East of England, so we need to think really carefully about how it’s impacting, and impacting differently across the country.
‘I think we’re somewhere between the middle phase and going towards still being beyond full stretch, really, because what we have to remember is that the NHS isn’t an island, we have a huge impact of Covid across all of the different services that work alongside and with the NHS.’
She said there were still ‘very high levels of hospital admissions’, and that hospitals were still seeing ‘significant’ numbers of beds occupied by patients needing ventilators.
Source: Thanks msn.com