The data, which was reported on by The Telegraph, shows that just 44 percent of patients classified as hospitalized with COVID-19 had tested positive at the time of admission. This suggests that a large number of patients are being classified as hospitalized with the disease when they were actually admitted for other ailments, with the coronavirus only picked up by routine testing.
The breakdown of daily COVID-19 hospital diagnoses seen by the paper shows that of more than 780 hospitalizations dated July 22, 43 percent were only diagnosed with COVID-19 two days after admission. A further 13 percent were made in the days and weeks that followed. This includes those likely to have caught the coronavirus in the hospital.
Despite this, the NHS' data does not distinguish between these patients who tested positive for the disease while already in hospital and those who were admitted for COVID-19. This has caused some experts to raise alarms and call for changes to how the NHS classifies COVID-19 hospitalizations.
"This data is incredibly important, and it should be published on an ongoing basis," said Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, talking to The Telegraph. "When people hear about hospitalizations with Covid, they will assume that Covid is the likely cause, but this data shows something quite different – this is about Covid being detected after tests were looking for it."
"This needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency," Heneghan added, noting that the published NHS data could lead the British public towards "false conclusions."
One NHS data expert, who remained unnamed, told The Telegraph that the published statistics distorted the true picture of the pandemic Britain. They stated that it created an "impression that all these people are going into hospital with Covid, and that simply is not the case."
Meanwhile, Conservative Member of Parliament Graham Brady, who chairs the Conservative Private Members' Committee criticized both the misleading nature of the NHS's data as well the lack of more detailed breakdowns of it.
"Nearly 18 months into the Covid crisis, it is absurd that data breaking down hospital admissions still isn’t publicly available on a regular basis," Brady said. "Counting all patients who test positive as Covid hospitalizations is inevitably misleading and gives a false picture of the continuing health impact of the virus."
The NHS report's numbers come even as COVID-19 case numbers have begun to fall in the United Kingdom. Cases in the U.K. dropped for the sixth day in a row as of Monday, July 26, with only 24,950 cases reported. This represents a 46 percent decrease in a week, bolstering hopes that the third wave of the virus in the country has peaked.
Meanwhile, the daily number of reported deaths from COVID-19 also continues to remain low, with only 14 reported on Monday. This is down from 19 reported during the previous Monday, July 19.
But despite these encouraging numbers, hospitalizations rose by 44 percent over two weeks, with a total of 752 people being admitted to hospital on Sunday, July 19. This is up 21 percent from the previous week and represents the highest number of daily COVID-19 hospitalization since February 25.
As of Friday, July 23, 5,238 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.K., with 715 on ventilators.
In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the U.K. is "not out of the woods yet" despite the sustained fall in cases. Johnson stated that the rapid fall in infections is "encouraging" but that Britons must stay on their guard and that the pandemic "is not over." (Related: Brainwashed Brits don't feel safe without masks… some are BEGGING the government to make them mandatory FOREVER.)
Follow Pandemic.news for more on how COVID-19 is being addressed in the U.K. and other countries around the world.