NHS chief Amanda Pritchard claimed that 14 times as many Covid-19 patients are in Britain’s hospitals as this time last year. However, even the NHS itself has admitted that Pritchard’s claim uses misleading figures.
Multiple news reports on Monday told the same story: Britain’s hospitals are seeing “14 times more coronavirus patients than this time last year,” and the country faces a “difficult winter,” as people gather indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.
Bizarre situation where Sky and ITV are leading with Fake News pic.twitter.com/vC4Wu8n1Dd
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) November 8, 2021
The source of the “14 times” figure is Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England. Pritchard used the apparently alarming surge in hospitalisations to encourage the 4.5 million Britons who still haven’t gotten vaccinated to roll up their sleeves, and those eligible to take their third shot of the vaccine.
However, NHS data shows that Pritchard’s figures are false. According to the health service, a 7-day average of 9,331 Covid-19 patients were in hospital at the beginning of November, compared to 12,654 a year earlier. Just over 1,000 people per day were being admitted to hospital at the end of October, compared to 1,500 last year.
Pritchard was swiftly accused of peddling fake news, with commentators warning that such misleading figures were straying into “resignation territory.”
Can anyone explain how NHS chief Amanda Pritchard managed to come up with this - the idea that there are 14 times more Covid patients in hospital than this time last year - given what the admissions chart currently looks like()?Serious questionhttps://t.co/Iq9BIsPXYppic.twitter.com/TRlkLmvfzx
— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) November 8, 2021
Head of the NHS England Amanda Pritchard is in resignation territory here. Grotesquely misleading. https://twitter.com/cjsnowdon/status/1457674342226071553
— Phil Taylor (@philjvtaylor) November 8, 2021
Lies put out by by Amanda Pritchard, head of NHS England, regurgitated by bought and paid for media The 14 times more patients is in reality, 33% less patients than this time last year https://twitter.com/anshul__k/status/1457610360069005316pic.twitter.com/B2xCKSPsI7
— John Amor (@cooljamm55) November 8, 2021
Amid a growing clamour online, NHS officials told reporters shortly afterwards that Pritchard was citing figures from August 2021 compared to August 2020. Hospital admissions were indeed 14 times higher this August than in 2020, but only for several days toward the end of the month. Since then, they have trended downwards and are now comparable to last year’s rate.
However, hospitalisations persist despite the fact that nine out of 10 people over the age of 12 in the UK have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to NHS statistics. Rising cases too have called into question the long-term efficacy of the jabs, but government officials still insist on vaccination as key to defeating the virus – and studies suggest those vaccinated patients still fare better if they catch the virus.
As Pritchard called on the population to get vaccinated or go in for booster jabs, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on Monday for the government to mandate vaccines for healthcare workers. “There is no respectable argument left not to force health and social care workers to get jabbed,” he wrote in The Telegraph, calling the vaccine “the only reason for the safe return of our liberty.”