HOSPITAL intensive care capacity is no busier than normal for the majority of trusts, leaked NHS documents reveal.
Capacity is tracking as normal with the number of beds available that would be expected at this time of year – even without the need to use the extra Nightingale capacity, raising doubts that a four-week national lockdown is required.
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An NHS source told the Telegraph: “As you can see, our current position in October is exactly where we have been in the last five years.”
The new data shows that even in the peak in April, critical care beds were never more than 80 per cent full.
Following the closure of the Nightingale hospitals, there is still 15 per cent capacity across the country – which is fairly normal for this time of year.
The documents show there were 9,138 patients in hospital in England as of 8am on November 2, although it had since fallen to 9,077.
It means Covid-19 patients are accounting for around 10 per cent of general and acute beds in hospitals. But, there are still more than 13,000 beds available.
In critical care, around 18 per cent of beds are still unoccupied, although it varies between regions.
In the North West, 92.9 per cent of critical care beds are currently occupied.
Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “This is completely in line with what is normally available at this time of year.
“What I don’t understand is that I seem to be looking at a different dataset to what the Government is presenting.
“Everything is looking at normal levels, and free bed capacity is still significant, even in high dependency units and intensive care, even though we have a very small number across the board. We are starting to see a drop in people in hospitals,” he said.
“Tier 3 restrictions are working phenomenally well, and rather than locking down, I would be using this moment to increase capacity.”
On Saturday, Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty warned that bed usage would be exceeded on Nov 20, and even extra surge beds would be used up a few days later.
But, the leaked documents show that no intensive units are in Criticon levels above 2, and the majority are at 0.
Around 146 units of 222 (65 per cent) are at Criticon 0, which is defined as “business as usual” by the NHS.
Just 29 units (13 per cent) are at Criticon 1 – the usual impact of a bad winter.
And, only 19 (8 per cent) are at ‘Critcon 2’ described as “medium surge”.
There are 28 units which have not reported their position.
‘NODDY LAND FIGURES’
Yesterday, Professor Chris Whitty accepted that the number of struggling hospitals was “small, and we want to keep it that way”.
In Wales, the number of Covid-19 patients needing critical care is less than half of what it was during the peak of the virus.
Demand for critical care capacity in the nation is 60 per cent lower than at the peak, according to the data.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance revealed that 4,000 people could die of Covid-19 every day during the Downing Street press briefing on October 31.
The statistics were slammed as “Noddy Land figures”.
Experts have said the modelling that provided the figure was outdated, with predicted deaths in early November more than four times higher than current fatalities.
Former Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption said: “Some of the statistics they have produced over the last few days simply don’t bear a moment’s examination.
“The most extreme one is the suggestion that there could be up to 4,000 deaths a day.
“That is a figure which no country has ever come close to. These are absolute Noddy Land figures.”
Microbiologist Professor David Livermore said the figures are “clearly ropey statistics” and said they “just don’t make sense”.
Figures yesterday revealed that 397 people had died with the virus in the previous 24 hours — the highest daily figure since May.