Hospital stays for Covid patients shorten in huge boost for struggling NHS, new data shows
- As of May 1 last year, over 80s were typically hospitalized for 11 days, data shows
- But since December 1, they usually only need a bed for about five days.
- It’s a similar story for those in the 50-69 and 70-79 categories
The average length of hospital stay for Covid patients over 80 in the UK has been cut by more than half, which has dramatically increased the NHS, figures show.
In the third wave, from May 1 last year, over 80s were typically hospitalized for 11 days.
But since December 1 – and the start of the Omicron wave – they usually only need a bed for about five days.
It’s a similar story for 50-69 year olds and 70-79 year olds. In Wave 3, people aged 70 to 79 needed a hospital bed for eight days, and those aged 50 to 69 for seven days. Now they too are on five days.
The average length of hospital stay for Covid patients over 80 in the UK has been cut by more than half. Pictured: Ambulances outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel
In Wave 3, those aged 70 to 79 needed a hospital bed for eight days, and those aged 50 to 69 for seven days.
The good news also extends to those under 50, with hospital stays dropping from four to three days.
The faster recovery and discharge in December is likely due to the protective effect of vaccines, drugs, and the milder variant of Omicron.
In another development, MailOnline’s analysis showed that Covid death rates had increased twentyfold – to around 0.15% of cases now, up from more than 3% at the worst of the pandemic.
The positive data could be a game-changer for the NHS, with government advisers claiming that halving the length of hospital stays effectively doubles capacity and reduces the risk of health services being overwhelmed.
Health experts in South Africa, where the Omicron variant first exploded, have also reported a reduction in the length of hospital stays since the variant’s emergence.
South Africa was able to lift its nighttime curfew for the first time in 21 months in December after the peak of the Omicron wave without overwhelming hospitals.
A study of hospital admissions in the country found it could be ten times less fatal than previous variants.
Doctors reported fewer patients needing oxygen or mechanical ventilation, and far fewer were admitted to intensive care than in previous waves.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: “The UK appears to mirror South Africa, with Covid patients now staying in hospital for a shorter period and becoming less sick .
“This is great news for the NHS as discharging patients frees up a bed for someone else’s admission earlier and effectively increases capacity.”
The UK government has not released data on length of hospital stays, but Spectator magazine used a specialized scanning technique to extract information from the charts shown to Sage on December 23.