politics

Link between Covid cases and deaths has been broken, says senior NHS boss


The UK’s vaccination programme has broken the link between infections, hospital admissions and deaths, and hospitals were reporting fewer and younger patients, according to a senior boss in the NHS.

The NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson, told Times Radio: “What [hospital] chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they’re seeing what they believe is significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures. So it’s not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it’s actually the level of harm and clinical risk.

“It’s important not to just focus on the raw numbers here … you also do need to look at who’s being admitted into hospital and how clinically vulnerable and what level of acuity they’ve got,” he added. However, he said those people who are admitted but survive may still end up with long Covid.

His comments came as the government is mulling over whether to lift any remaining coronavirus restrictions on 21 June. A decision is expected next Monday.

Hopson’s comments came as the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said coronavirus cases were “clearly rising” and that Boris Johnson was reviewing a range of data to make a decision on the further lifting of restrictions on 21 June.

He told Sky News: “The prime minister is reviewing the data, and more data is coming in, which is very important. We created this five-week period between the stages of the roadmap and that has actually proved invaluable on this occasion because it’s a finely balanced decision.”

He said people would probably be going on holiday in the UK this summer, adding: “I think a lot of people are coming to the conclusion, perfectly understandably, that this isn’t a normal summer – opportunities for international travel are going to be more limited, and so why not enjoy everything that this country has to offer this summer?

“That’s probably the decision that I’m going to make, many other people will be doing the same. We would like to offer people the opportunity to go to more of those green list countries but that’s very dependent on what’s happening there.

“We can’t control the vaccination rollout in those countries, we obviously can’t control the spread of new variants, and we have to do everything that we can to protect all that we’re achieving here domestically.”

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, called for more support for the region as cases of the Delta variant rise. He said they had gone from 38 weekly admissions a fortnight ago to 78, but added that number was “still low” compared with the highs seen previously.

Burnham said he supported the government’s national approach to restrictions with support packages being provided to regions with surges in the numbers of cases.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme there was a change in hospitalisations and “the age range tends to be younger than it was last year”, adding that this showed the vaccination programme working for over-60s.

He urged the government to provide a “surge” in vaccine supplies to certain areas that need them to stop the spread of the virus. He added that this was about bringing forward supplies already allocated to the area, rather than asking for additional vaccines.

“We need further movement on this and it is not just in our interest but everyone’s interest to stop the spread of the Delta variant,” he said.



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