THERE are early signs the pressure on the NHS is easing after being battered by the third wave of Covid.
The number of inpatients in England has fallen for three days in a row, suggesting the “peak” has been reached.
Covid inpatients have fallen for three days
A total of 33,325 Covid inpatients were reported by NHS England yesterday, January 21.
It’s down three per cent on the 34,336 reported on January 18 – a record high for England.
But most of the change is down to drops in the south of England, including in London.
The north and Midlands are yet to see improvements in their hospital inpatient figures, which are still rising week-on-week.
The hope is the nation-wide figures will continue on a downward trend, but this will take many weeks due to the sheer number of patients – and how long they stay – in beds.
There are 88 per cent more inpatients than on Christmas day, when many families were allowed to come together to celebrate.
Highs of 4,100 patients were being admitted to hospitals in England every day in mid-January.
How are hospital patients changing regionally?
A reduction of 565 patients has been reported in London over the past three days.
Over the past week, London’s inpatients has gone down by six per cent.
In the South of England, figures are down eight per cent, and in the East by five per cent.
The daily admissions peaked for all three regions at the start of January, the Government dashboard shows.
But because patients spend on average three weeks in hospital being treated, positive trends are only just being seen in the inpatient data.
And the patients being admitted today – around 750 a day in London, 550 in the South East and 435 in the East – are expected to stay until mid-February.
Daily hospital admissions are falling in London, the South East and East of England
Inpatients in LondonCredit: Department of Health
Inpatients in the East of EnglandCredit: Department of Health
Inpatients in the South EastCredit: Department of Health
Meanwhile, inpatient levels are yet to improve in the other four regions, which have seen a week-on-week rise.
The Midlands, North West, North East and Yorkshire have each seen inpatients rise by 10 per cent in a week. They’ve gone up by nine per cent in the South West.
Only the North West and South West have shown very early signs of daily admissions flattening.
You can see how your hospital is coping on the coronavirus dashboard.
A glimmer of hope
Generally, England still has terrifyingly high numbers of people critically ill with Covid, and NHS staff are likely to be stretched into the spring.
More than three-quarters of major hospital trusts in England currently have more Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave of the virus.
And NHS England data showed one in 10 major hospital trusts had no spare adult critical care beds last week.
A top medic has said hospitals remain in a “precarious” situation, but there are some “glimmers” of hope with the impact of lockdown.
Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London, told the Downing Street briefing yesterday: “The situation in our hospitals in the NHS remains really precarious.
Dr Vin Diwakar said the situation in London’s hospitals is “precarious”Credit: Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street / BEEM
Paramedics transport a patient outside the Royal London Hospital in LondonCredit: PA:Press Association
“In London, more than half of all patients in hospital are being treated for coronavirus and sadly over 1,000 patients died in hospital in London just last week, every single one a tragedy.
“Nationally, there are 34,000 people in hospital and pressure remains intense on our staff.”
He said the number of patients in intensive care in London was still rising.
This is because it can take around a week for people to become more unwell once admitted.
Dr Diwakar said: “It is very early but we are seeing some glimmers of the impact of the lockdown in the NHS.
“In our general and acute beds, in 999 and in the 111 service we’ve seen the number of people with coronavirus falling since the last week.
“But that has not fed through to intensive care, the most seriously ill people.
“So actually in London the numbers of patients in intensive care went up yesterday, it didn’t go down.”
It comes amid a raft of data that shows daily infections are on the downward slope, including that from King’s College London which said today Covid cases have halved in just two weeks.
Sage, scientists advising the Government, also revealed today the R rate has fallen below 1 across the country – and could be as low as 0.6 in some areas.
However, when the lockdown will end is still unclear.
Ministers are worried that the numbers aren’t coming down as swiftly as in previous lockdowns – possibly as a result of the new variant.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday that lockdown might last until the summer.
He was asked by a reporter if it would be spring or more like summer when people could finally get some of their freedoms back.
And he replied: “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions.”
He said it would “unquestionably will be a tough few weeks ahead”.