We’re publishing the latest update from our in-house doctor, who’s pored over the latest NHS England and ICNARC data packets so you don’t have to. Contrary to some hysterical reports in the media yesterday, it’s actually good news. Community admissions for Covid are falling in London and tailing off across England – and of those classified as being in hospital ‘due to Covid’, 40% were admitted for something else and only have Covid incidentally.
When I was a medical student, a novel called The House of God was required reading. It relates the experience of the fictional American Dr. Roy Basch in his first year as a qualified doctor. The book contained lots of good advice for surviving the junior doctor ordeal including several ‘Rules of the House’. Rule 13 states: “The delivery of good medical care is to do as much nothing as possible.”
Surprisingly often in medicine, doing nothing is the best option. One of my former mentors frequently advised me to “do as little as possible for as long as possible” – his point being that over-hasty intervention is not just unnecessary, but can be actively damaging. This transgresses a key principle of medicine Primum, non nocere – first, do no harm.
Having looked at lots of data from multiple sources over the last few weeks, I am coming to the view that the entire country would be better off in almost every way if doctors stopped ‘doing things’ for a while – particularly if they stopped testing asymptomatic people for the variant du jour.
I will discuss the available information and explain why I have arrived at that conclusion.
Firstly, the admissions from the community in London (as the leading edge of the Omicron wave).
Graph 1 shows the daily Covid admissions from the community in the blue bars vs the same time last year on the brown line. Readers will recall that Professor Sir Chris Whitty warned at the Downing St press conference on December 15th that a big increase in Covid hospital admissions after Christmas was “nailed on”.
It looks like we are waiting for Godot, because the numbers are actually falling, not rising and are currently less than a third of levels a year ago.