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COVID-19: Third of all coronavirus patients who needed hospital treatment were admitted last month

Written by on 12 February 2021

Almost a third of all hospital patients who needed treatment for coronavirus in England during the pandemic were admitted last month.

Hospitals treated 242,307 patients who were confirmed to have COVID-19 in 2020, the data shows.

This compares with the 101,956 patients who were treated in hospitals in January this year.

The figures come as the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in England is at its highest level since 2008.

NHS England data shows 224,205 people had been waiting more than a year in December – the highest number for any calendar month since April 2008.

The figure was just 1,467 in December 2019.

The figures also show that a total of 4.52 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of December – the highest number since records began in August 2007.

The total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was also down a quarter in December compared with a year earlier.

Some 190,604 patients were admitted for treatment during the month, down from 253,318 in December 2019.

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The figures also show how health workers have kept other services running during the pandemic – with the NHS completing more than six million elective treatments in 2020 despite the pandemic.

Hospitals also carried out more than two cancer procedures for every patient they treated for COVID-19.

There were more than 18.7 million patients who visited A&E in 2020.

A total of 1.3 million attendances were recorded in January, down 38% from 2.1 million in January 2020.

The figures also show how cancer services have continued to recover, with 25,199 people starting treatment in December.

This was 555 more people than in the same month the previous year.

200,940 people were referred for cancer checks in 2020 – 13,129 more than in December 2019.

The checks last year came after an NHS campaign encouraging people to come forward for help.

While the NHS was treating increasing numbers of coronavirus patients during the winter wave, the data shows average waiting times for non-urgent surgery fell by more than 40% between July and the end of the year.

But with hospitals still treating over a thousand more patients with coronavirus than they did at the peak of the first wave, NHS leaders urge the public to remain vigilant and follow the official advice on slowing the spread of the virus.

The NHS is currently treating more people with coronavirus in critical care than hospitals did for all conditions this time last year.

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Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “While the world’s attention has rightly been on Covid, NHS staff have worked extremely hard to provide essential services for those patients who need them, including 280,000 treatments for cancer patients along with millions of routine operations.

“Even in January, when hospitals admitted almost a third of all the Covid patients they have treated during the pandemic, they were treating twice as many patients with other conditions as they did for those with the virus over the month.

“But the NHS remains under significant pressure so it is vital that everyone continues to do all they can to stop the spread of the virus by staying at home and following the expert ‘hands, face, space’ guidance.”