Hospitals 40% busier than first peak – PM

Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent
·4-min read

Hospitals are under more pressure from Covid-19 than they have ever been, the Prime Minister warned as he ordered a new national lockdown across England.

Boris Johnson said that hospitals are 40% busier than the first peak of the virus in April 2020.

In his address to the nation, the Prime Minister said that almost 27,000 people are being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals across the nation – a significant rise on the peak of almost 19,000 patients in April last year.

“Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” Mr Johnson said.

“In England alone the number of Covid patients has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000.

“That number is 40% higher than the first peak in April.”

He said that across the UK a record number of people tested positive for coronavirus on December 29 – around 80,000 people.

Mr Johnson said that over the last week the number of deaths was up 20% over the last week and “will sadly rise further”.

It comes after the UK’s chief medical officers raised the Covid-19 alert level to five – its highest – meaning “transmission is high or rising exponentially” and “there is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”.

The alert level has not been at level five before.

It indicates a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed within 21 days without urgent action – it does not mean the NHS will be overwhelmed in three weeks, but there is a risk of that happening if no action was taken.

Data provided by Number 10 show that there are currently 26,626 Covid patients in hospital in England – a rise of 30% compared to the same day one week before – so a 30% increase in a single week.

The peak of admissions in the first wave of Coronavirus was 18,974 on April 12, 2020.

Across the UK there were 80,664 positive tests in a single day on December 29. And further 65,571 on December 30.

And the latest case rate in England was 518 per 100,000 – three times the level at the start of December when it was 151.3 per 100,000.

It comes after hospital leaders warned that a “critical point” has been reached in the coronavirus crisis.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: “It’s clear we have reached a critical point where immediate and decisive action is now needed to stem the rapidly rising rate of infections, hospital admissions and deaths.”

He added: “Hospitals are filling up with Covid patients at a deeply alarming rate.

“Today’s figures show that, in the 10 days since Xmas, we’ve seen nearly 9,000 more Covid patients in hospital beds.

“That’s equivalent to 18 hospitals full of new Covid patients in just 10 days.”

He said the new virus variant had “changed the rules of the game”.

In London, hospital admissions stood at 6,733, up 36% in a week, while in eastern England the number was 3,623, up 44%.

Figures for the other regions are: south-east England 4,730 (a week-on-week rise of 33%); Midlands 4,499 (28%), north-east England/Yorkshire 2,828 (16%);north-west England 2,812 (20%); and south-west England 1,401 (27%).