Sir Simon Stevens, head of the National Health Service (NHS), says hospitals are in a “much better position” than before, with far fewer patients, compared to one third at the peak of the pandemic, according to The Telegraph. This time last year, there were around 4,000 COVID patients in hospital in England.
COVID-19 patients fill 993 of 96,000 hospital beds in England – just 1%. At the peak of the second wave in January, there were more than 34,000 COVID patients in hospital, filling one in three beds.
Sir Simon told the NHS Confederation annual conference that the majority of hospital cases now were younger than previously, with these people having “much greater” chances of recovery.
“The age distribution has really flipped as a result of vaccination. Back in January, it was 60/40 – 60% of beds occupied by people over 65, 40% under 65. Now it's flipped to 30/70, so it's about 30%occupied by people aged 65. and more than 70% by younger people, whose prospects are much greater.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the lifting of COVID restrictions on Monday after government scientists said it was not possible to determine whether the move would result in “unsustainable pressure on the NHS”.
Prof Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said the NHS could “run into trouble” if the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus continued on an “exponential path”.
A paper by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), dated 9 June, said: “Taking step four of the road map on 21 June carries significant uncertainty and risk. It is not possible at this point to determine whether this would result in unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”
Prof Graham Medley, a member of Sage and SPI-M, a sub-group that also advises the government on its COVID response, said there would still be a large amount of uncertainty in the data by the time new projections are made for 19 July.
He said the models used to delay the 21 June date had a large degree of uncertainty because of various unknowns such as the true transmissibility of the Indian or delta COVID variant and the effectiveness of the vaccines against the strain.