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Covid-19: Hospital Admissions

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 18 January 2022

We have developed a globally recognised programme that combines boosters, testing and antivirals to protect the vulnerable and to reduce hospital admissions. Our “Get Boosted Now” campaign led to a huge increase in vaccination rates and we have successfully procured the highest number of antivirals per head in Europe. We are also employing the use of remote monitoring technology to enable more patients to get the care that they need at home rather than having to be admitted into hospital.

Before omicron arrived there had been over 10 million positive cases in this country of covid-19, of which 14 in every 1,000 appeared to have been fatal. Since omicron arrived there have been a further 5 million cases, and it looks as though the fatality rate is about 10 times lower. Will the Secretary of State tell the House how important the “Get Boosted Now” programme has been in reducing hospitalisations and fatalities?

Yes, of course. The officials within my Department have carried out a wealth of analysis on case fatality rates in the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Recent data has shown that covid-19 case fatality rates for the over-80s are likely to be more than five times greater in the unvaccinated versus those who have had at least two doses.

My hon. Friend may be interested to know that, when I recently visited the intensive care unit dealing with covid patients in King’s College, the consultant in charge told me that he estimated that about 70% of his patients on that day were completely unvaccinated. It is clear, as we have seen especially in the past few weeks, that vaccinations save lives.

I have a 90-year-old constituent who has been prevented from going to see his 89-year-old wife of 65 years. It took my intervention after 20 days of his being prevented from seeing her for him to be able to get into the hospital. Neither of them have covid. Will my right hon. Friend please instruct health trusts that, as we reduce the incidence of covid in hospitals, family members must be allowed to go and see their family in hospital?

I am very sorry to hear about what happened to my hon. Friend’s constituent. It cannot be right that people are unable to visit their loved ones while they are in hospital. It should not require the intervention of a Member of Parliament to do so. Allowing such visits should be an absolute priority in every trust, and I have recently raised this issue with the chief executive of the NHS. She has assured me that this message will be sent loud and clear to all NHS trusts.

Too many women with endometriosis are being forced to go to A&E or seek hospital admissions for their treatment. This is partly because they wait on average seven and a half years for a diagnosis. What can the Secretary of State do to improve the knowledge and awareness of endometriosis right across all aspects of the NHS?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise the importance of endometriosis. She will know, I hope, that in the women’s health strategy there will be an important focus on it. Within that strategy, we have set out how we can work together to do much more.

We know that the number of covid admissions has led to a number of people having their routine hospital treatment cancelled. Last week it was announced that that had reached a record-breaking 6 million people. When might the Government make a statement about hitting this figure and set out a plan to tackle it?

The hon. Lady will know that, sadly because of covid and the need for the NHS to prioritise it—rightly—we have sadly seen an increase in people waiting for elective procedures and scans. She will also know that the Government have already set out a plan to deal with that in terms of funding—the biggest catch-up fund in history, with an extra £8 billion of funding over the next three years. After tackling the most immediate need to deal with omicron, we will shortly set out in much more detail how we intend to tackle the elective backlog.