England: more than third of hospital Covid-19 deaths in London

Niamh McIntyre, Pamela Duncan and Caelainn Barr
Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty

More than a third of coronavirus deaths in hospitals in England have occurred in London, with 590 deaths across the capital, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

Seven out of the 10 trusts with the highest death tolls in England are in London and the deaths are concentrated in a handful of hospitals. London North West Healthcare NHS trust reported 38 new deaths, taking its total to 93, the highest of any UK trust. A total of 55 deaths have been reported at Barts Health NHS trust, the next highest.

A total of 367 deaths were reported by NHS England as of 5pm on 30 March. The new figures include a 19-year-old who had no underlying health conditions, the youngest death to have been reported in England to date. The NHS had previously suggested an 18-year-old had died from the virus but later said the person tested positive but died from an unrelated condition. Overall 28 of those who died had no underlying health conditions.

However the figures are not an accurate picture of the deaths over one day, as some deaths announced in today’s release occurred earlier this month. Of the 367 deaths, at least seven occurred more than a week ago.

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Prof David Spiegelhalter, at Cambridge University’s statistical laboratory, said: “The extreme day-to-day variation in reported Covid-19 deaths is far more than we would expect from chance variability and must be due to reporting practices. Some deaths occurred many days ago, and there seems to be fewer reported over the weekend. So great caution is required in interpreting daily figures.

“Over the last week, reported deaths rose on average by an estimated 21% each day, similar to Italy at the same stage of the epidemic, around two weeks ago. Italy’s death rate appears to have now levelled off at around 900 a day, and we can hope that our death rate will also flatten off due to the measures started a few weeks ago.”

The Midlands has now reported 329 deaths and accounts for a fifth of the overall death toll. The region with the fewest deaths is the south-west, where 91 people have died of the virus. The trusts with the highest numbers of deaths outside London are Royal Wolverhampton NHS trust (53), University Hospitals Birmingham NHS trust (43) and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS trust (39).

Scotland reported 13 more deaths to take its overall total to 60, while Wales reported seven more deaths, bringing the number of deaths to 69. Northern Ireland reported six new deaths taking its total to 28.

Devolved administrations use different reporting periods from England. As such the official UK total from the Department of Health and Social Care may not reflect the most recent national figures.

Methodology

All data on NHS trusts has been gathered from NHS England press releases. In early releases, deaths were matched to news reports where no clear date was supplied. All deaths are dated to when the public is notified by NHS England; however, this may not be the actual date the death took place because of a delay between the occurrence and clearance for the NHS to report it publicly.