Over the past week, 20 NHS Accident and Emergency departments in England issued diverts, with patients taken elsewhere.
Those A&E departments still taking new patients have seen long delays, with more than 25% of ambulances waiting at least 30 minutes to handover patients.
Even here, in the Soviet-style behemoth that is “our NHS”, choice can no longer be taken for granted. There is a defiant reluctance among GPs to go back to seeing patients in person. Many hospital appointments are still online. Hopes that patients could start to enjoy the comforting old normal are dashed by an arrogant, unfeeling bureaucracy which puts its own health first.
“There are no immediate changes to IPC (infection, prevention and control) requirements,” says an ominous letter to clinical staff from NHS England. I am told that masks are so embedded in NHS behaviour that we will probably never again see a nurse’s smile.
It is more than a rebuke to Medley and the modellers though. This pandemic began, for many, with an announcement from Imperial College, whose study predicted 500,000 deaths if we did nothing. We locked down and never tested the prediction.
This time, in the face of what the public saw as dire predictions, we didn’t lock down and the apocalypse never came. The unspoken — and sometimes spoken — implication is clear: are we all fools?
The NHS has wasted around £13million after hundreds of beds meant for the Nightingale hospitals are unable to be used for patients in other wards. The temporary Nightingale hospitals were built across the country to tackle waves of Covid-19, including at a site in London.
The huge loss was documented last week in NHS England’s annual accounts, with the health service claiming that the beds can’t given to other departments as they don’t meet the required standard. Some of the millions of pounds written off include paying for storing the beds.
A report from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre suggests a collapse in the number of patients becoming very unwell. It put the number of admissions to ICU of patients with Covid at 19 on January 23. About 400 people were being admitted daily at the peak of the second wave in January last year.
Are Israeli hospitals really overloaded with unvaccinated COVID patients? According to Prof. Yaakov Jerris, director of Ichilov Hospital’s coronavirus ward, the situation is completely opposite.
“Right now, most of our severe cases are vaccinated,” Jerris told Channel 13 News. “They had at least three injections. Between seventy and eighty percent of the serious cases are vaccinated. So, the vaccine has no significance regarding severe illness, which is why just twenty to twenty-five percent of our patients are unvaccinated.”
Jerris also revealed some of the confusion in reporting cases. Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Sunday, he told ministers, “Defining a serious patient is problematic. For example, a patient with a chronic lung disease always had a low level of oxygen, but now he has a positive coronavirus test result which technically makes him a ‘serious coronavirus patient,’ but that’s not accurate. The patient is only in a difficult condition because he has a serious underlying illness.”
Fresh NHS data shows that the total number of covid-related deaths in hospitals in England involving patients under the age of 80 and with no pre-existing condition is 3,037. This covers the entire period of the pandemic.
One of Britain’s most senior health advisers has been accused of disseminating “dodgy data” that inflated the potential risk of omicron.
Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), is understood to have been the source of a contested claim by Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, that there is typically a 17-day lag between patients becoming infected and requiring hospitalisation.
However, independent experts pointed to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, which suggested an average delay of nine or 10 days.
More than half of new ‘Omicron patients’ are actually people being treated in hospital for a different reason
These people are in hospital for physical injuries such as broken bones, heart attacks, or even routine care
Ministers are keeping a close eye on Covid hospital admissions as they weigh up imposing more restrictions
Two-thirds of new Covid hospital patients in England were actually admitted for a different ailment, MailOnline’s analysis of NHS data suggests – as a growing number of studies show Omicron is much milder than Delta.
In the two weeks to December 21, hospitals in England recorded 563 new coronavirus inpatients — the majority of which are believed to be Omicron now that the variant is the country’s dominant stain.
But just 197 (35 per cent) were being primarily treated for Covid, with the remaining 366 (65 per cent) only testing positive after being admitted for something else.
Britain’s omicron wave may be no worse than a flu pandemic, an expert has said, as the first major study into the new variant suggests it is less severe than delta.
The first real-world study looking at 78,000 omicron cases in South Africa found the risk of hospitalisation is 29 per cent lower compared with the Wuhan strain, and 23 per cent lower than delta, with vaccines holding up well.
Far fewer people have also needed intensive care from omicron, with just five per cent of cases admitted to ICU compared to 22 per cent of delta patients, the study shows.
The UK Government’s handling of what Boris Johnson warned will be a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron infections verges on hysteria.
With predictions of one million cases by the end of the month and concerns about the NHS being overwhelmed with up to 10,000 hospitalisations per day, I gather there is talk of Christmas again being cancelled and a possible New Year lockdown.
Yet you only have to look at the picture in South Africa, where the world’s first known cases of Omicron were spotted, to realise this reaction is out of all proportion to the risks posed by this variant.
And I should know — because I am the doctor who first raised the alarm about Omicron back in November.
Plan B is a go. And just like that, more mask mandates, working from home guidance and, most controversially, vaccine passports have been rushed in. While we wait, of one thing we can be certain: Covid decisions this winter are once again being determined by one institution. While we wait to find out more about the omicron variant, there is one thing we can say with certainty: our future rests once again on the ability of the National Health Service to handle an uptick in cases.
…Yet the NHS has a guilty little secret, rarely talked about given its status as the national religion. On many metrics, capacity has not been rising – it’s actually been falling.
The boss of the drugmaker Moderna has warned that Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant in comments that have added to uncertainty about its impact and unsettled financial markets.
“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level we had with Delta,” Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times. “I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to … are like, ‘this is not going to be good’.”
Foucault saw the tendencies to try to control, normalise and rationalise everything as ubiquitous in industrialised society. ‘The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge… [E]ach individual, wherever he may find himself, subjects to it his body, his gestures, his behaviour, his aptitudes, his achievements.’ Foucault asked: ‘Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?’
…To turn Foucault on his head, you could easily argue that it is the medical staff who are the slaves, rather than the masters, in the NHS Panopticon. Those in the blue and green uniforms, the masked and overworked, are expected to metaphorically slave all day for the needs and whims of those of us who lie around all day, doing nothing but eating, reading, sleeping or messing around on the internet.
These prognosticators of doom have been wrong time after time after time. And not just a little bit wrong – epically wrong, all while morally condemning their more accurate opponents. As cases rose in early July, in the run-up to England’s full reopening on July 19, restrictions advocates said that it was inevitable we would reach 100,000 cases per day. Keir Starmer released a video statement in which he declared that “Boris Johnson’s recklessness means we’re going to have an NHS summer crisis. The Johnson Variant is already out of control.” A set of academics wrote a letter to The Lancet condemning the reopening as a “dangerous and unethical experiment”.
The head of the NHS today said the health service was never overwhelmed by Covid during the height of the pandemic.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, told MPs expanding critical care, introducing new treatments and rolling out the vaccine prevented wards from being overrun over the last year-and-a-half.
First major inquiry into the Covid crisis says the tragic losses in care homes were among the highest in Europe
The report finds that deaths could have been prevented but instead elderly were treated as ‘an afterthought’
Finding is just one among catalogue of failings detailed in the inquiry by the health and science committees
The report found test and trace system which cost Government £37billion was also branded ‘chaotic’ fiasco
Private hospitals treated a total of just eight Covid patients a day during the pandemic despite a multi-billion pound deal with the government to help stop the NHS being overwhelmed, a report reveals.
And they also performed far fewer operations on NHS-funded patients than usual, even though hospitals has suspended much non-Covid care, according to research by a thinktank.
The Treasury agreed in March 2020 to pay for a deal to block-book the entire capacity of all 7,956 beds in England’s 187 private hospitals along with their almost 20,000 staff to help supplement the NHS’s efforts to cope with the unfolding pandemic. It is believed to have cost £400m a month.
However, the Centre for Health and the Public Interest’s report (Pdf) says that on 39% of days between March 2020 and March this year, private hospitals treated no Covid patients at all and on a further 20% of days they cared for only one person. Overall, they provided only 3,000 of the 3.6m Covid bed days in those 13 months – just 0.08% of the total.
It remains a mystery to us why some medical staff, doctors and nurses seek to spread misinformation and, at times, lies, that only serve to heighten fear levels and panic in the community and reduce trust in Public Health messaging.
One can only guess why Emma Browne decided to spread disinformation. Maybe her intentions were honourable, and she felt some mistruths were worth the price if her end goal, that of seeing more people vaccinated, was helped along a little? Maybe, like others we have exposed, her aim was to raise her own social media profile and make herself relevant to the discussion? Given that less than 2 weeks after she made these claims she left her position at the Mater, this may suggest Emma was happy to take the chance of spreading disinformation as she was leaving her role at the hospital anyway.