Covid-19 hospitalisations are below last year, not 14 times higher as NHS CEO claimed

8 November 2021
What was claimed

We have had fourteen times the number of people in hospital with Covid than we saw this time last year.

Our verdict

False. The number of people with Covid in hospital in November 2020 was above, not below, the level in November 2021.

“The NHS is running hot...We have had fourteen times the number of people in hospital with Covid than we saw this time last year”

The CEO of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, has claimed the NHS has had 14 times as many patients in hospital with Covid-19 than at this point last year.

Ms Pritchard’s comments were reported by a number of news outlets including Sky News, ITV News and the i, but it is not true.

The latest data shows there were 7,072 patients in English hospitals with Covid-19 on 5 November 2021. 

On 5 November 2020 there were 10,994. That makes the current figure 1.6 times lower, not 14 times higher as Ms Pritchard claimed.

The NHS has never had fourteen times the number of people in hospital with Covid than it did in November 2020 (which would be roughly 154,000 people). 

To date, the highest number of people in hospital in England with Covid-19 was 34,366, recorded on 18 January 2021.

NHS England told us Ms Pritchard was not talking about data from “this time last year” but data comparing August 2021 compared to August 2020.

Additionally, the figures don’t refer to the number of people currently in hospital, as claimed, but the number of people admitted to hospital. (This isn’t currently 14 times higher either, but again around 1.5 times lower than last November.)

A spokesperson explained Ms Pritchard was using August data to make a comparison with the latest available figures for elective operations. 

In an article in the Health Service Journal on 8 November, Ms Pritchard wrote: “The latest monthly figures show that in August, for example, diagnostic tests were up around a fifth and elective procedures up around a third compared to a year ago despite admitting 14 times more covid patients in hospital.”

The NHS England press release with the details can be read here.

Late August and early September 2021 was when the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 was highest compared to 2020, in relative terms.

The same is true of people newly admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

We took a stand for good information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Yahoo to request they clarified which data Ms Pritchard was referring to in the video clip on their website. 

They took down the video.

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