NHS Admits 25% of Patients With Covid Were Admitted For Something Else

We’re publishing a guest post today from our in-house doctor, a senior clinician in private practice who used to work for the NHS. This one’s a bit of a shocker.

On Thursdays, the NHS releases the weekly summary data in relation to Covid patients. Normally this is a more granular version of the daily summaries – it has some hospital level detail and figures on non-Covid workload for comparison. Usually interesting but not especially informative.

Yesterday was an exception. Placed down at the bottom of the page, almost like a footnote, was a ‘Primary Diagnosis’ Supplement. Graph 1 shows the information contained in that spreadsheet. I find it astonishing. In essence it shows that since June 18th, the NHS has known its daily figures in relation to ‘Covid inpatients’ were unreliable at best and deliberately untrue at worst.

The yellow bars are what the NHS has been telling the nation were Covid inpatients. The blue bars are the numbers of inpatients actually suffering from Covid symptoms – the difference between the two are patients in hospital who tested positive for COVID-19 but were being treated for something different – where Covid was effectively an incidental finding but not clinically relevant.

For example, on July 27th, the total number of beds occupied by Covid patients was reported as 5,021. However, until today, we were not allowed to know that only 3,855 of those were actually admitted with Covid as the primary diagnosis. There has been a fairly consistent over estimate of the true number by about 25% running back to mid-June – figures before that date are “not available”.