Almost One Third Of All Covid Patients Requiring Hospital Treatment Were Admitted In The Last Month
The NHS has come under increasing pressure from a surge in hospital admissions
Nearly a third of all Covid patients requiring hospital treatment over the course of the pandemic in England were admitted in January, according to new NHS data.
Newly published figures from NHS England have revealed the major strain placed on hospitals during the surge in coronavirus cases, with over 100,000 patients admitted for treatment in January alone.
The latest data shows that a total of 242,307 patients were hospitalised with the virus throughout 2020, but that 101,956 people had already admitted to hospitals in the first four weeks of this year.
Meanwhile, the figures showed the impact of soaring hopsitalisations on other services, with the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks in England to begin hospital treatment for other conditions hitting its highest level since 2008.
In December there were a total of 224,205 people who had been waiting more than a year to being treatment, compared to just 1,467 in December 2019.
A further 350,000 people in England had been left waiting more than six weeks for key diagnostic tests by December, including 345,644 patients waiting for tests such as MRI scans and ultrasounds.
But NHS England said cancer services had begun to stabilise with 25,199 people beginning treatment in December, a rise of 555 than in the same month in 2019.
Tim Mitchell, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said the pandemic continued to take an "enormous toll" on patients left waiting for operations.
"The number of people waiting over a year for their treatment is now 150 times higher than in 2019," he said.
"Many are waiting 'in limbo', reliant on painkillers, and unable to get on with day-to-day family life or work."
And he hit out at the government's decision to ease restrictions over the holiday period, saying: "These figures show the impact on the NHS of lifting the November national lockdown.
"By Christmas, some surgeons were facing the awful job of calling up patients waiting for cancer operations, to tell them they weren't sure when they would have a bed or the staff in place to operate."
Responding to the figures, Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, praised the work of NHS staff but said the service was still under "significant pressure".
"While the world's attention has rightly been on Covid, NHS staff have worked extremely hard to provide essential services for those patients who need them, including 280,000 treatments for cancer patients along with millions of routine operations," he said.
"Even in January, when hospitals admitted almost a third of all the Covid patients they have treated during the pandemic, they were treating twice as many patients with other conditions as they did for those with the virus over the month.
"But the NHS remains under significant pressure so it is vital that everyone continues to do all they can to stop the spread of the virus by staying at home and following the expert 'hands, face, space' guidance."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe