This is why more people in Lancashire are in hospital with Covid than latest published figures show

There are around 100 more people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Lancashire than the latest published figures suggest – because real-time data for individual NHS trusts is not routinely being released.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has learned that regional NHS bosses have opted not to provide a daily update of the situation in each of Lancashire’s hospitals – instead preferring to publish a total figure for the number of Covid inpatients across the county on a weekly basis.

That tally can be found in the Lancashire Resilience Forum’s seven-day bulletin of coronavirus statistics – but it comes with a lag of more than a week.

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The latest version of the document contains a figure for the week to 6th October. It states that 209 people were in hospital with coronavirus across Lancashire and South Cumbria at that point – both new admissions and people who had tested positive after arrival.

The published count of Covid hospital admissions across the county lags behind the current position

However, in a message on social media last week, the chair of Lancashire’s health and wellbeing board said that just over 300 people were hospitalised with the virus.

County Cllr Shaun Turner – who is also Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing – told the LDRS that the figure he quoted was from 13th October.

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In his post, he noted that there were 496 beds occupied by Covid patients across the region at the peak of the first wave in spring – and that the pressure had required the cancellation of many pre-planned procedures.

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“A backlog built up and, post-original lockdown, a recovery plan was drawn up to deal with [it]. It’s important to point out that that recovery plan was based on the infamous R-value being under 1 – it’s sitting now in Lancashire at between 1.4 and 1.8 – and infection rates are rising rapidly.”

Posting shortly before Lancashire’s Tier 3 lockdown was announced, he added: “We really need to return to the days of taking everything so seriously – hands, face, space and [then] some.

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“Please use hand gels and masks when entering shops, do not mix with other households and, most of all, understand this is not forever.

“Test and trace works, but only with lower infection rates – those rates have surpassed this now.”

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The LDRS understands that an agreement between Lancashire’s NHS trusts to offer each other mutual assistance during the pandemic – to ensure sufficient capacity across the patch – may have influenced the decision to publish coronavirus data regionally rather than locally.

The Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care system (ICS) – the regional partnership of health and social care organisations leading the work on mutual aid for the county’s hospitals – was approached for comment on trust-level reporting of Covid admissions.