Coronavirus death toll at London hospital is ‘THREE times higher than figures show’ – The Sun
King's College Hospital reported 31 deaths on its website on Friday, yet the NHS's official count has listed 11 for the same trust.
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It's raised questions over whether the official coronavirus toll accurately reflects the number of deaths seen in hospitals across the country.
But deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said on Sunday that there is a "time lag" in the number of deaths tallied up as officials firm up the numbers and speak to families.
A tally of the NHS data updated on Sunday says 11 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in hospitals run by King's College Hospital trust.
But the trust's own website, which was updated on Friday, says that 31 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have died at its three hospitals over a six week period.
An internal email, seen by Channel 4, was also sent to staff at the hospital suggesting that the daily tally didn't match the actual number made public by the government.
It stated: “The number of deaths reported at King’s in national figures is below what they are experiencing. It is not just King’s but a number of other trusts and the centre has been made aware.”
Channel 4’s Simon Israel read out the memo at the televised Downing Street press conference yesterday.
In response, Dr Harries said: "We have to make sure that when we're reporting the family is content and knows and all our data is absolutely accurate."
There is always a time lag for us to check and evaluate that the data across the system is linked
She added: "There is always a time lag for us to check and evaluate that the data across the system is linked.
"We do not want to be misreporting data and then having to correct it.
"The public would not have confidence if we were doing that.
"As we have sadly had to register more deaths, that time period takes longer."
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Last week, Public Health England changed its format for publishing the number of deaths from Covid-19.
Figures showed that some of the fatalities dated back up to 10 days before they were revealed in the official count.
But authorities say that before they can publicly confirm someone has died, they must be certain that the patient had coronavirus.
This involves taking multiple tests as well as ensuring the family has been notified and given consent for basic information to be shared.
It can take between days and weeks – and as more people die, the backlog becomes greater, slowing down the entire process.
However, if the scale of the discrepancy at King's matched hospitals across the country then the true death toll from Covid-19 could be almost three times higher than reported.
Meanwhile, one in four NHS doctors are off work sick or in isolation, the head of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has said.
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said: "At the moment, we think it's more doctors self-isolating with family members, though there are some off sick themselves.
"This is really impacting a lot in emergency departments and London is in a much worse position than elsewhere at the moment, but it will come to other places.
"Birmingham is also struggling."
Prof Goddard said hospital wards across England "are going from normal wards to Covid wards very quickly".
Asked about the pressure on intensive care units, Prof Goddard added: "Some hospitals are really at the limit. Within London it's very, very difficult at the moment, you can't underestimate how difficult it is."
He said it was unclear whether the 25% off work would be a "rolling number" or whether it could ease as testing of NHS staff increases and people come out of isolation.
"Of course the worry is we will lose more people to Covid-related illness," he added.
It comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said on Sunday that around one in five nurses had taken time off work to self-isolate.
Meanwhile, Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London and author of a report which warned of mass deaths if the UK did not introduce strict controls, said there were signs the rate of hospital admissions was slowing.
It comes as Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's chief adviser, became the latest in Westminster to self-isolate after developing symptoms.
He joins Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who are all in self-isolation due to Covid-19.
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