Just under half of Covid hospital patients are being treated primarily for something else, according to new data released by the NHS trusts in England.
Of the 15,026 Covid hospital patients reported as having the virus on January 11, 6,647 (44%) were not being treated principally for Covid-19, according to NHS England
These figures are the highest proportion known since the information began being published in June 2021 and has increased from the 26% recorded at the start of December. All Covid hospital patients need to be treated separately from people who are negative for the virus regardless of whether they are in care primarily for Covid-19 or not.
However, the growing amount of people who are in hospital “with” Covid-19 rather than “for” Covid-19 is another sign that the current wave of the virus is not creating the same level of strain on hospitals as previous ones. The latest data came as Health Secretary Sajid Javid said “there are already early signs that the rate of hospitalisation is starting to slow”.
He told the Commons on Thursday that Omicron “still has the potential to lead to significant numbers of people in hospital. There are already almost 17,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England. Due to the lag between infections and hospitalisations, the NHS will remain under significant pressure over the next few weeks.
“It is encouraging, however, that during this wave we have not seen an increase in Covid-19 intensive care patients, and there are already early signs that the rate of hospitalisation is starting to slow. We know that Omicron is less severe. But no-one should be under any illusions – it is severe for anyone that ends up in hospital, and that’s far more likely if you have not had the jab.”
High hospital occupancy is still being reported in a separate set of data handed in by the English NHS trusts. The new numbers showed that 80 of the 135 acute trusts in England which submitted data had bed occupancy levels above 90% every day in the week to January 9 – above the recommended limit of 85%, as reported by The Independent.
The importance of splitting the Covid hospital patients into groups of people who are being treated for the virus versus people who happen to have to virus but are being looked after for another reason is crucial, as pointed out by a London doctor last month. Dr Zudin Puthucheary, a member of the Intensive Care Society in London and a physician in London, has said the number of patients who “happen to be Covid positive” is skewing data, but the data needs to be accurate before the numbers are used to install new restrictions.
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