Hospitals admit one third of COVID patients in a single month

Almost one third of all patients who have needed hospital treatment for COVID since the pandemic began were admitted last month.

Hospitals treated a total of 242,307 patients who were confirmed to have COVID last year.

That compares with 101,956 in January 2021, new figures revealed today show.

The hospital admissions data, showing the extent of the pressure on the NHS during the third wave, was released alongside other figures showing how the hard work of staff kept other services running.

The NHS completed more than six million elective treatments in 2020 despite COVID while hospitals carried out more than two cancer procedures for every patient they treated for the virus.

In all, there were more than 18.7 million A&E attendances.

Cancer services have continued to recover, the new figures show, with 25,199 people starting treatment in December, 555 more than in the same month the previous year. And following an NHS campaign, to encourage people to come forward for help, 200,940 people were referred for cancer checks, 13,129 more than December 2019.

While the NHS was treating increasing numbers of COVID patients during the winter wave, new data show 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 COVID 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 COVID in critical care than hospitals did for all conditions this time last year.

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.”


Between January and December 2020:

  • There were 18,765,683  admissions into A&E
  • 6.1 million elective operations were performed
  • 280,424 patients were treated for cancer
  • On 10 Feb 2020 there were 3,019 adult critical care beds occupied, compared to 3,160 people with COVID in an ITU for the same day in 2021