Tory MPs have criticised BBC’s Covid coverage after the BBC aired a left-wing opponent of the PM.

Dr Zahid Chauhan – a GP in Oldham and Labour councillor – was invited on Radio 4’s Today programme to take aim at Boris Johnson.

He said that it was incorrect for him to claim, like he did Tuesday, the Omicron threat could be ‘ridden out’ by the country while the public was still’suffering.

The Today program aired several warnings about the’really tough’ situation facing hospitals.

More than 20 NHS Trusts reported yesterday a ‘critical incident’ involving increasing Covid admissions, and staff shortages related to the virus.

The PM’s spokesperson said some of these incidents only lasted ‘a matter hours’. This means that declarations are not a reliable indicator of how the NHS performs.

Tory MPs criticised the BBC over its Covid coverage last night after it gave airtime to a Left-wing critic of the PM. It came as the Today programme aired a string of warnings from other NHS figures over the 'really challenging' circumstances facing hospitals

Tory MPs have criticised BBC for its Covid coverage, which it carried last night when it aired a Left-wing criticism of the PM. This was just as Today aired several warnings by other NHS officials about the “really difficult” circumstances faced hospitals.

Meanwhile it was claimed that NHS officials were under pressure to relax infection prevention and control rules that require contacts of confirmed Covid cases in hospitals to be isolated for 14 days – regardless of testing negative.

Yesterday’s Today featured the story of 17 hospitals struggling in Greater Manchester that had placed non-urgent surgeries on hold.

Nick Robinson followed with a conversation with Dr Chauhan.

He answered a question about the meaning of cancelling non-urgent surgery. “It means my patients that they’ll be waiting longer and will suffer more,” he stated. If you’re waiting to have a hip replaced and can’t move, it means that you’re in pain.

He was asked whether cancellations might have been needed if restrictions were in place. His answer: “If there are appropriate lateral flow and PCR testing available, then staff can go back to work.

Dr Zahid Chauhan – a GP in Oldham and Labour councillor – was invited on Radio 4's Today programme to take aim at Boris Johnson. He claimed it was wrong for the PM to say, as he did on Tuesday, that the country could 'ride out' the Omicron threat when the public was 'suffering'

Dr Zahid Chauhan – a GP in Oldham and Labour councillor – was invited on Radio 4’s Today programme to take aim at Boris Johnson. It was wrong of the PM to claim, like he did Tuesday, that the country could “ride out” the Omicron threat while the public was suffering.

“PCR tests were not possible in Manchester yesterday.” Each of these factors plays a part. Your Prime Minister promises us that we will get it over with while the people are suffering.

Iain Duncan Smith was a Tory ex-leader who stated that medical experts were there to voice concerns about Covid risks and issues, but not political opinions about the Prime Minster or Leader of the Opposition.

“If someone is invited to a medical appointment and the person talks about their political views it can lead to allegations of bias.

According to a BBC spokesperson, “We made it very clear that the GP is also a Labour councillor. And none of his questions were political in nature.” 

It’s a sad fact: Hospitalizations were higher in the past two years. 

An analysis by Shaun Wooller is the Health Correspondent to The Daily Mail 

Omicron is sweeping through the UK, with infection rates at an all-time high for the last three weeks. Hospital admissions have also increased.

One in ten NHS staff are also off work, with many isolating, placing additional strain on the health service – though it is no worse than at this time last year.

Boris Johnson, however, is positive that the country will be able to ride the current wave through without any further restrictions.

Is there any reason to be optimistic?

Bedding numbers

According to the latest statistics, hospitals in England saw fewer beds this winter than before Covid. The week ended December 26th saw an average of 89.097 beds open, including 77.901 occupied.

However, the NHS cared for more hospital patients over the week of December 26th 2019. NHS England’s data show that the average number of beds opened was 95,917 and that the occupancy rate for this week was 89.7 percent.

It is more than the 87.3 percent in the latest data. This suggests that there are still admissions.

Because of Norovirus-related outbreaks, nearly half of the beds have been made unavailable. It is now possible to transfer patients and allow for additional admissions.

Hospitals in England have had fewer beds occupied this winter than they did pre-Covid, latest figures show. An average of 89,097 general and acute beds were open each day in the week to December 26, of which 77,901 were occupied (stock photo)

According to the latest statistics, hospitals in England saw fewer beds this winter than before Covid. On average, 89,097 beds, including acute, were opened each day during the week up to December 26. Of these, 77,901 beds were occupied. (stock photo

Are you suffering from the flu?

Despite bleak warnings of a ‘double peak’ of flu and Covid crippling the NHS, seasonal influenza has yet to take off – reducing normal winter pressures on hospitals.

Flu cases in the United States are at 95% of the level seen in 2019-20. This is the lowest flu rate since the outbreak.

During the last bad flu season, in 2017-2018 there were 22,000 flu deaths in England and Wales – but latest ONS data shows that over the past month there have been just 1,640 deaths due to flu.

Spare intensive care capacity

There is more capacity available in the NHS for intensive care than ever before, and it could even open more beds if necessary.

Half of the Covid patients currently in England’s critical care is now occupied. There were an average of 4,079 adult critical care beds open each day in the week to December 26, but only 75 per cent of them – 3,058 – were occupied.

This compares to the occupancy rate at 79.6 percent in week ending December 26, 2019. There were an average 3,647 adult-critical care beds available and 2,903 people occupied.

On January 24 last year there were 3,736 Covid patients in intensive care in England – the highest of the pandemic – with 6,270 critical beds open for any illness.

While covid infections have increased to new heights in England, intensive care numbers remain flat. Omicron has been in operation in the UK since then.

Only five percent are now on mechanical ventilators at hospitals with Covid, down from 11 percent during January’s peak pandemic. There are 15,659 Covid patients currently receiving treatment in England’s hospitals.

But only 769 are on ventilators – fewer than two months ago when cases were significantly lower. The peak number of Covid patients was 34,336 at the hospitals in England, with 3,736 being in intensive care.

The percentage of Covid patients admitted to hospital and then placed in ICU has fallen compared to the April numbers.

Fewer A&E admissions

Fewer people are attending A&E and being admitted to hospital as an emergency with any illness than before the pandemic.

There were 2,040,323 A&E attendances in England in November, down from 2,143,505 in the same month in 2019.

Also, the numbers of patients admitted to hospital in an emergency have dropped from 559 556 to 506,238.

However, patients are being made to wait longer in A&E, with just 74 per cent admitted, transferred and discharged within four hours in November 2021.

This is despite the fact that doctors are now required to treat coronavirus patients, which indicates a decreased demand for other conditions.

However, the number of hospital patients who have to wait over 12 hours to get a bed in a hospital has risen from 1,111 to 10,646.

Omicron brings good news

Numerous studies have shown Omicron to be less deadly than other variants. This raises hopes that we may finally learn how to live with it.

After the Omicron wave reached its peak, South Africa was able lift its midnight curfew in December.

Study of hospital admissions showed that cases where the disease was first discovered may prove to be 10 times more deadly than previously thought.

The UK Health Security Agency said data shows people are half as likely to have to attend A&E or be admitted to hospital with Omicron as they are with Delta. And they say the risk of hospital admission alone for Omicron – which now accounts for nine in ten infections – is around a third of that for Delta.

A booster drive is essential

UK gave a boost to more people than any other EU country. The UK Health Security Agency data has shown that those who were boosted have eight times the chance of ending up in hospital than people who don’t get vaccinated.

The third dose has protected 34.5 million UK residents. It also helps to reduce overcrowding of NHS patients with Covid.

After 20 weeks of AstraZeneca, people no longer have protection from symptomatic infections.

The vaccine’s effectiveness decreases over that same time period in Moderna and Pfizer jabs. It is now just 10%.

The vaccine protects against hospitalization at 88 percent after two weeks of booster shots, which highlights its importance.

Over 60% of the patients receiving intensive care in Covid are not receiving any vaccines, and up to 90% haven’t had their booster.

STEPHEN GLOOVER: Don’t listen to the BBC or Labour shroud-wavers. Boris rightly stands firm in face of the hysteria. The NHS isn’t in crisis.

Boris Johnson suggested Tuesday that Britain can ‘ride it out’ of the Omicron waves without another lockdown. Is the NHS becoming hopelessly overwhelmed by rising Covid infections?

Answer to the first is yes. Both the first and second questions are answered no. Listening to Labour, and the media coverage on the BBC would make you believe we are in the grips of an awful scourge that can only be stopped by drastic measures.

Angela Rayner (Labour’s Deputy Leader) was yesterday in place of Sir Keir Sterner, who had been infected by Covid twice.

She presented a grim picture of the NHS’s allegedly dire situation in the Commons and suggested that her party would support additional restrictions.

Can Britain 'ride out' the Omicron wave without another lockdown, as Boris Johnson suggested on Tuesday? Or is the NHS being hopelessly overwhelmed as Covid infection rates soar? The answer to the first question is Yes

Boris Johnson suggested Tuesday that Britain can ‘ride it out’ of the Omicron waves without the need for another lockdown. Are Covid rates soaring and the NHS becoming increasingly overwhelmed? To the first, yes

On BBC Radio 4, the flagship Today program, panic was being created. In sepulchral tones, Nick Robinson told listeners that the Prime Minister had to admit yesterday that the NHS was under great pressure.

Why was he forced to? Why was he forced to speak the way he did?

Robinson interviewed an Oldham doctor who happens to be Labour councillor. After 17 Greater Manchester hospitals put off non-urgent surgeries, this gentleman was feisty. As Mr Robinson asked, the gentleman agreed that part of it was due to a lack new restrictions.

Robinson also interviewed a representative from the Road Haulage Association. He provided a positive picture and said that staff absences “aren’t really translating into the supply chains”. The disappointed interviewer stated that it was not too much of a problem at the moment.

Hugh Pym (BBC’s Health Editor), is a lugubrious presence on BBC Television News. It makes my heart sink every night. He would sound awful even if he ever found some positive news.

People claiming to be NHS workers, such as nurses, managers and ambulance drivers, are flooding the radio waves to say that the NHS is going to collapse unless the Government does something.

The situation today is not as severe as the one of recent years 

What do you think? There is no doubt that people working in hospitals face immense pressure. This is what happens at this time every year. These people deserve our appreciation and gratitude. However, it does not follow that they should have a lockdown.

The next couple of weeks will be difficult, it is obvious. Some places will see an increase in infections, but not London, Omicron’s peak. There will be more pressure on hospitals. Death rates may rise.

It is likely that more stringent measures will be needed. Yesterday, while announcing an extremely welcome relaxation in Covid testing requirements yesterday in the Commons, the PM reiterated that the government doesn’t want the country to be’shutdown again’. Let’s hope he stays true to his word.

The arguments made by critics of the government have two major flaws. First, they overestimate the dire state of the NHS. Pre-Covid, England’s hospital bed occupancy is about the same as it was in 2005, despite a difficult winter for the NHS.

In the Commons Labour's Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, painted a lurid picture of the supposedly dire state of the NHS, and implied that her party was ready to support further restrictions

Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of Labour, presented a stark picture of the NHS’s dire situation in her Commons speech. Rayner implied that she was open to supporting further restrictions.

Official figures show that there were 17.276 Covid patients in UK hospitals on Tuesday. This is compared to the 30,775 who had been admitted a year ago. About 140,000 hospitals are in the UK.

This is to say that, while there’s clearly a lot at stake for the NHS and the reason why some hospitals in Greater Manchester are no longer performing non-urgent procedures, the current situation is not nearly as severe as it was in the past.

Indeed, Jeremy Hunt — a former health secretary and no great fan of the PM’s — was almost certainly right when he said yesterday in the Commons that admissions to hospital in London are no longer increasing.

True, it’s true that hospital beds have more than doubled in the UK over the last 30 years. Germany is home to more than triple the amount of hospital beds per head. The famed NHS is impulsive in getting rid bed, creating unneeded constraints.

Angela Rayner painted an ugly picture of the dire situation of the NHS 

However, despite these limitations, the NHS does not appear to be in the dangerous state that some Government critics fear. Angela Rayner, who claimed yesterday that the NHS was’struggling to stay afloat’, is not wrong.

Labour’s assertion that the NHS cannot function properly due to underfunding is difficult to accept, as real expenditures have nearly doubled over the last 40 years and the Government has funnelled countless additional billions to it. The NHS is a hungry beast.

It isn’t at breaking point, that is all that can reasonably be said. We must not allow the government to make false claims about its strength. We will end up in lockdown.

The case is not complete without a second flaw. It seems that they have not noticed that although we experience a similar daily incidence of new infections to those in France, Italy, and Spain, the Covid mortality rate has been much lower over recent weeks.

Admittedly, yesterday’s figure of 334 fatalities for the previous 24 hours was high — the highest since March. It almost certainly contained many deaths that were not reported during the New Year and Christmas holidays.

Over the last few weeks, we can see that the UK’s daily Covid death rate has been markedly lower than in several European countries.

One possible explanation, floated by Dr Clive Dix, a former head of the vaccine taskforce, is that the United Kingdom’s earlier reliance on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — preposterously vilified by the likes of President Macron of France — has given us an edge.

The other explanation is, I believe, that Britain has received significantly more booster jabs then France, Italy, or Germany.

The PM has been slashed by rebellious Tory MPs 

Even though the UK has two million available slots this week, almost nine million UK citizens have not received boosters. A booster is extremely protective and it’s a foolish decision to decline one.

It is clear that Britain’s booster program has been much more successful than most European countries. This is likely to be a major reason for the recent lower fatality rates.

In short, Mr Johnson’s evangelising of boosters, and his avoidance of lockdown measures, is succeeding — and will succeed all the more if a substantial number of those nine million step forward to be jabbed.

Because he is aware that they will oppose restrictive measures, some 100 Tory MPs rebelled against the PM. However, he should be commended for standing up to doomsayers from the Labour Party, scientific community (though some exceptions are noted) and BBC.

Boris Johnson’s resolve will be tested. These will be tough weeks. He will feel immense pressure. However, he will succeed if Omicron is passed, which ensures that society and the economy are not further damaged.