More than half of Covid ‘patients’ in London are not primarily being treated for the virus, official figures show which highlight how mild Omicron is compared to previous variants.
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.
The above graph shows the proportion of Covid patients that were primarily admitted with the disease in London (yellow) and across England (red). It reveals that these levels are falling highlighting how the Omicron variant is less severe
Pictured above are the total number of beds occupied by Covid patients (pink) against the numbers of these patients who are primarily ill with Covid (blue). Over the latest week the proportion of patients ill with the virus has fallen by 500, while the number of Covid patients has barely changed
Pictured above are the number of Covid patients in hospital (pink) and the numbers who were primarily admitted with Covid (blue) across England up to January 11