The NHS will begin recording data showing which patients are hospitalised with Covid separately to those who test positive in hospital while seeking treatment for another condition.
Until now, data from hospitals has included all patients who tested positive and did not differentiate between those in hospital because they are sick with Covid-19, versus those who are in hospital who go on to test positive.
The changes will be made to the daily flow of data sent by NHS trusts, as first reported by The Independent, and it is hoped it will aid NHS and government decision making.
It comes as ministers are set to examine data on hospitalisations ahead of the decision on whether the final lockdown restrictions can be lifted on June 21.
This week Boris Johnson warned “cases are going up, and in some cases hospitalisations are going up” and said it was too early to say if restrictions can be lifted in just under two weeks.
Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority
A letter sent to hospital bosses on June 7, seen by The Independent, said NHS England wanted “a breakdown of the current stock of Covid patients into those who are in hospital with acute Covid-19 symptoms (and for whom Covid-19 is the primary reason for being in hospital); and those who are primarily in hospital for a reason other than Covid-19 (but for whom the hospital is having to manage and treat the Covid-19 symptoms alongside their primary condition).”
Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s Covid incident director, wrote: “In lay terms this could be considered as a binary split between those in hospital ‘for Covid-19’ and those in hospital ‘with Covid-19’. We are asking for this binary split for those patients newly admitted to hospital and those newly diagnosed with Covid while in hospital.”
The data generated through hospital activity are used for planning and operational reasons, NHS England said. It has not yet confirmed whether the data will be made public, as it must be checked and verified first.
The change in collection will allow for a more detailed understanding of the Covid situations in hospitals, as well as what patients are presenting for, it is understood.
A spokesperson for the NHS said: “Throughout the pandemic, the NHS has published daily, weekly, monthly and up-to-date information on Covid hospital activity, and this is a further update for operational reasons as it is obviously important for the NHS to continue to monitor cases of Covid in hospitals, alongside the success and impact of the vaccine programme.”