How locked-down Bolton only has TWO Covid-19 patients in hospital

How Bolton only has TWO Covid-19 patients in hospital despite being England’s locked-down virus hotspot – and there are 141 people on wards across all 18 ‘intervention’ areas

  • Public Health England has listed 18 areas of intervention with stricter rules
  • They had only a combined 141 people in hospital as of September 3, NHS shows
  • One person in hospital for every 38,000 in a population of over 5.4million 

Bolton, the coronavirus hotspot of England, has only two coronavirus patients on hospital wards, the most up-to-date NHS data shows.

Despite an infection rate of more than 120 cases per 100,000 people and local lockdown rules preventing people from meeting anyone they don’t live with, fears about the virus spreading translate to only two people in hospital.

This suggests the vast majority of Covid-19 infections there are not making people seriously ill, currently. But this could quickly change if the outbreak continues to grow.

And across all the 18 ‘intervention’ areas listed on Public Health England’s watchlist, there are a total of just 141 people in hospital beds because of the disease. 

This is from a population of more than 5.4million people, all of whom must follow strict lockdown rules. Analysis shows this equates to just one patient in hospital with Covid-19 for every 38,000 people, in England’s worst-hit areas.

The NHS data, from September 3, is the most recently available and shows that a total 468 people were in hospital on that date across England.

Tameside and Glossop NHS Trust had the most people in hospital, with 27, but there are hospital trusts outside of lockdown rules that have more patients than those forced into restrictions.

Sheffield, for example, has 18 patients and residents face only national rules, while East Lancashire Hospitals, which treats a comparable number of patients (700,000 per year compared to one million in Sheffield) has just six patients but the areas it serves – Blackburn and Pendle – are in one of the strictest lockdowns in the country.

Bolton Hospital (pictured) has the fewest patients in hospital of any area under a local lockdown – two as of September 3 – despite having the highest infection rate in England, NHS data shows

Speaking to MPs today, Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan said hospitalisations should be taken into account when looking at local areas.

He said too much emphasis is being put on infection rates and that authorities are making knee-jerk decisions when numbers of cases rise. 

He said in Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee: ‘[The] question is what impact is it having?

‘For instance I looked at Bolton NHS Trust and saw that there were two patients with Covid in hospital there right now. 

The number of Covid-19 patients on intensive care ventilators in hospitals in England has hit its highest level for two months as cases of the disease are rising.

As of Tuesday, September 15, there were 115 people needing the life support machines, which force air into people’s lungs when they are unable to breathe on their own.

This was up 22 per cent in a week, from 80 on September 8, and the highest figure since 137 on Tuesday, July 21 – eight weeks ago.

Patients on ventilators are the most seriously ill of all coronavirus patients and have a survival rate of around 50 per cent. Ventilators are usually a doctor’s last resort for when the patient’s lungs no longer work on their own.

The increase in ventilator patients has come as more people are being admitted to hospital in general with coronavirus, whether critically ill or not. 

As of Monday, September 14, an average 140 people per day were being admitted to NHS England hospitals each day. 

This was up almost three times on the average 56 per day two weeks ago and from a low of 45 in the last week of August.

There were 172 admissions on September 14, compared to 79 on September 2. 

‘So I think that’s where you start to provide context as opposed to just throwing the [infection rate] number. 

‘And I think we do need to have now more data that allows people to put the information in context as opposed to just seeing a number, think it’s rising and then panic.’

NHS England data shows that, after Tameside, Manchester University NHS Trust was the worst affected of local lockdown areas, with 25 patients in hospital.

Next was Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, which serves Oldham, Rochdale and Bury – a population of around 650,000 people – where 19 people are in hospital.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, which serves Preston, has two patients in hospital, the lowest number of any area under local restrictions.

Hospital trusts outside of lockdown areas, but with relatively high numbers of patients on wards, included University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (17); West Hertfordshire Hospitals (15); Barking, Havering & Redbridge in London (14); and King’s College Hospital in London (14).

There have been calls in the past to take hospitalisations more seriously as a measure for local lockdown decisions, instead of looking solely at cases. 

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs, said the number of cases was a ‘volatile’ measure because it is heavily influenced by how much testing is being done in an area.   

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Graham said: ‘My view is that it would be sensible to take a broader basket of measures in making the judgement about these things.

‘And in particular the thing which it seems to me is very odd not to include, is evidence on the number of hospital admissions. 

‘Because we have seen evidence in recent months there has been bumping about in positive test results, but the number of hospital admissions has carried on falling steadily.’

But his suggestion was ridiculed by scientists who branded it ‘shocking ignorance’.

Professor John Ashton, an ex-regional director of public health in England, told MailOnline the comments showed ‘a lack of understanding of this pandemic’.

He said: ‘If you only make decisions based on people being so sick they are coming into hospital, it’s like making decisions to have lifeguards or rescue boats downstream on a river and not doing anything about the people who are falling in the river upstream.’  

HOW MANY COVID-19 PATIENTS ARE IN HOSPITAL IN LOCAL LOCKDOWN AREAS? 

Monthly data published by NHS England, accurate at September 3 

Hospital trust

Lockdown area(s) 

Patients in hospital

Tameside and Glossop 

Manchester University 

Pennine Acute Hospitals 

UH Birmingham 

UH of Leicester 

Bradford Hospitals 

Salford Royal

Sandwell and W. B’ham 

East Lancashire 

Calderdale & Hudds.

Pennine Care 

Bolton NHS Trust

Lancashire Hospitals  

Tameside

Manchester

Oldham, Rochdale, Bury

Birmingham, Solihull

Leicester

Bradford

Salford

Sandwell, Birmingham

Blackburn, Pendle

Kirklees, Calderdale

Oldham

Bolton

Preston 

27

25

19

14

13

9

9

7

6

5

3

2

2

 

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