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NHS at “tipping point” as ONS releases Covid-19 mortality data

Following the release today of mortality data for Covid-19 compared to deaths from influenza and pneumonia from January to August by the Office for National Statistics, SAM’s immediate past president provided the below commentary.

By Dr Nick Scriven,
Immediate Past President of the Society for Acute Medicine

As coronavirus cases increase in number across the NHS and predominantly in the northern half of the country, these latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show us just how many people have sadly died due to this infection compared to those who died of other common respiratory infections – although it must be noted that this data is through spring and summer when the latter are usually less prevalent in the community.

If the number of people dying from pneumonia and influenza is the same as last year and the impact of covid remains relatively the same, it could imply a further 13000 pneumonia/influenza deaths through to January but also, frighteningly perhaps, a further 50000 deaths due to covid in the next four months.

The latest available NHS data shows that on Oct 1st 2069 people with Covid were in a hospital bed – this is 1.8% of national beds but, by region, the proportion in the North East and Northwest was double that and, given how the case numbers have dramatically climbed over the last seven days, the figures will be much higher now.

These all point towards the imminent crisis we face this winter in terms of the capacity of the NHS to deliver care to all those thousands with covid but also all those many thousands with other potentially lethal acute and chronic health problems

As was pointed out by Dr Stokes-Lampard in the last 24 hours, it feels as though the NHS is at a tipping point with the potential for significant problems.

We hope the public take all the warnings on board and again play their part in controlling infection rates to give the front line NHS staff a chance to deliver care to those who need it despite the exhaustion they must be feeling due to the constant demands on their time and energy

If there is one message to send out it must be that President Trump was 100% incorrect in his statements this week around flu and covid and we must not let his words influence anything here.

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