Hospital admissions were coming down in the North West BEFORE lockdown

More proof Tier Three WAS working before Boris pressed the panic button? Hospital admissions peaked ten days BEFORE lockdown in the North West, Government’s own data shows

  • EXCLUSIVE: Hospital admissions hit crisis point in the North West ten days before lockdown was imposed
  • They fell 13 per cent from 308.4 to 268.4 Covid-19 patient admissions a day since the peak
  • The stark figures add yet more evidence to the argument that Tiered restrictions were driving down cases 
  • But the Prime Minister still ordered the region into a national lockdown and abandoned the Tier system 

Coronavirus hospital admissions in the North West peaked ten days before lockdown was imposed, in the latest sign that Tier Three were helping to beat the virus.

Numbers from the Department of Health’s own coronavirus dashboard reveal daily average Covid-19 admissions hit 308.4 on October 26 but have been dropping every day since.

They had fallen 13 per cent to 268.4 by November 4, the day before England’s second lockdown was introduced. No fresher data has yet been released.

And in Tier Two London hospitalisations appeared to peak seven days before lockdown, dropping eight per cent from 127.4 to 117.7 in the seven-day spell up to November 4. 

The figures are the latest suggestion Boris Johnson may have pressed the panic button too quickly, without giving Tier Three restrictions — and the other brackets — time to work. A raft of figures last week backed up suggestions the outbreak was shrinking before lockdown, and Tory MPs have already called for the tightest restrictions to be relaxed in light of real-world data implying the worst was already behind the nation. 

Experts had called on ministers to give the measures more time to take effect, but their calls went unheeded after SAGE estimated the UK could face up to 4,000 deaths a day from the virus by early December.

Their chilling projection was eventually revised downwards, however, after officials admitted they had found an ‘error’ in the data. The graph, alongside several other doomsday predictions, reportedly led the Prime Minister to feel bounced into the decision of imposing another lockdown, according to a cabinet ally. 

Average Covid-19 hospitalisations per day peaked in the North West on October 26, and in London on October 29

Bristol is the only place in England’s top 50 coronavirus hotspots in the South. The southwest city, home to 463,400 people, diagnosed 410 cases per 100,000 in the week to November 6, almost half that of Oldham, which takes the top spot with 779 cases per 100,000

Mass coronavirus testing being used in Liverpool will be rolled out across 66 local authorities, the Health Secretary has said

FALLING NUMBERS OF HOSPITALISATIONS ACROSS ENGLAND 

NHS region of England data is from

North West

London

North East

East of England

Midlands

South West

South East 

% change in hospitalisations by November 9*

-12%

-8%

+9%

+10%

+14%

+26%

+31% 

% change in hospitalisations by October 28*

+19%

+22%

+27%

+37%

+33%

+81%

+49% 

* The percentage fall is based on the difference between the seven-day average number of Covid-19 hospitalisations on October 28 and November 4, the latest day for which data is availabl, in the second column. In the third column it is based on the difference between the seven-day average number of Covid-19 hospitalisations between October 21 and 28. 

Tier Three restrictions were imposed in Liverpool on October 14, in Lancashire on October 17, and in Greater Manchester on October 23. 

Other areas, such as Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire later followed, as local authorities aimed to force down infections to stop hospitals being overwhelmed. 

The then-harshest measures, which around 10million people were living under, saw pubs and bars shuttered in all their local authorities, and bans in place on mixing between households.

The reduction in social contact saw infections starting to fall across all local authorities in Liverpool two weeks after they came into force, and in most areas of Lancashire a few days later.

A drop in hospitalisations would lag behind cases, officials said, because it takes longer for someone who is infected to develop symptoms severe enough for them to be hospitalised.

This meant they began to fall a week after infections, which experts said was due to the longer period of time taken for someone to become hospitalised.  

The figures also reveal daily admissions never reached the same level as in the first wave in the North West, when they got up to 412.9 a day on April 4.

But the total number of Covid-19 patients in hospital across the region rose above the numbers in the second wave on November 4, when it reached 2,793 a day.

Experts said a lot of these patients will have just been tested and added to these numbers, as opposed to being admitted to wards after catching the disease in the community.

Around 18 per cent of hospital patients with Covid-19 caught it while they were in hospital during October, NHS figures show. This is up from nine per cent a month ago. 

Only one place in England’s top 50 coronavirus hotspots is in the south, according to official statistics that lay bare the country’s north-south Covid divide. 

Bristol has the 37th highest coronavirus infection rate out of 317 authorities in England, with officials diagnosing 410 cases for every 100,000 people in the week ending November 6.  

But the city’s outbreak is still only half the size of Oldham’s, which is currently the country’s worst-hit area with around 779 new cases for every 100,000 residents in the most recent full week of data.  

Department of Health statistics also show no London borough is among the worst-hit 100 places, with Havering being the worst-hit and coming in at 106th place with 252 cases per 100,000. 

The figures cast more doubt on whether a nation-wide lockdown was needed to stem sky-high infection rates in the north. 

But some academics argue that although infection rates in the south are not the highest, they are growing the quickest, and so intervention was needed quickly to prevent escalation. 

Many northern authorities have actually seen cases drop in recent weeks, including Liverpool, Nottingham and Manchester. Experts have insisted it is proof the Tier 2 and 3 restrictions, predominantly introduced in the north, were working before the system was binned for a blanket shutdown.

Across England, hospitalisations had also begun to slow down in the week before the second national lockdown, suggesting the patchwork of extra measures put into place was helping to drive down infections.

Average daily hospitalisations rose by 30 per cent between October 21 and 28, from 946.7 to 1,226.9 a day, the Government’s own data shows.

But in the following week to November 4 they only rose by six per cent, to 1,298, in a sign hospitalisations were slowing.

The biggest rises were seen in the South East and South West, by 31 per cent to 112.9 a day and by 26 per cent to 96.1 a day, respectively, in the most recent week of data. 

But experts pointed out that these numbers were below the levels in the north, which suggested stricter measures to curb the spread of coronavirus were needed — rather than a second lockdown.

Boris Johnson has said England will return to the Three-Tier system after lockdown. Speaking in the Commons last week, he said: ‘Let me stress that these (lockdown) restrictions are time-limited.

‘After four weeks, on Wednesday 2nd December, they will expire and we intend to return to a tiered system on a local and regional basis.’

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, said last week that Tiered system had been working but ‘slowly’.

‘It looks like (they didn’t work enough) to bring the R down well below one and crucially to bring down the number of people who have actually got it,’ he said.  

Even England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty admitted the Tiered system was working, telling MPs he was confident Tier Two has had an effect and that Tier Three has had a bigger effect’. 

‘The communities in the North and Midlands in particular, obviously London too has went into a Tier Two and some parts of eastern England too, have responded remarkably to this. 

‘And because of that, I am confident the rates are substantially lower than they would’ve been if this had not happened.

‘But the early indications we have at the present is that this has not achieved getting the R below one – it has brought it much closer to one – but it is still doubling over a longer period of time.’

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