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Patients in North West saw highest rate of Covid diagnosis in England, GP data shows

by Jess Hacker
21 May 2021

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Patients in the North West of England have had the highest rate of GP clinical diagnoses or positive tests for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, new data has shown.

Data published yesterday (20 May) by NHS Digital revealed that, between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021, 6,591 patients per 100,000 (1 in 15) in the region had a positive test or clinical diagnosis on their GP record.

This is compared to the South West which had the lowest rate at 4,113 patients per 100,000 (1 in 24).

Similarly, the top 20% most deprived areas of England saw a rate of 6,548 per 100,000 (1 in 15), compared 4,859 (1 in 21) in the least deprived areas.

This is the first publication of the new dataset, which includes experimental statistics on Covid-19 patients as recorded in primary care systems throughout England.  

The cohort of patients included are those with at least one Covid-19 related diagnosis in their primary care record.

The findings follow a report published late last year that found pre-existing regional inequalities contributed to disparities in Covid-19 deaths. It revealed that deprived local authorities had higher Covid-19 death rates, with the North of England the worst hit.

Last week, NHS England instructed GP-led vaccination sites to bring forward all second dose appointments for the over 50s and clinically vulnerable patients, amid concern over new variants of the virus.

Disparity in diagnoses

The primary care dataset also showed that 3,267,820 (1 in 18) registered patients in England had a positive Covid test or diagnosis made by a GP, rising to 5,123,640 patients (1 in 11) when suspected diagnoses are also included.

The data also found a higher rate of Covid cases among female patients – with 6,325 cases per 100,000 (1 in 16) compared to 5,008 (1 in 20) among males.

There was also a significant difference in rates per 100,000 population by ethnic group. Patients in the Bangladeshi group had the highest rate of GP diagnoses or positive tests recorded – 9,608 per 100,000 (1 in 10), followed by those patients in the Pakistani group, at 9,267 (1 in 10).

Meanwhile, patients in the Chinese group had the lowest rate, at 1,723 per 100,000 (1 in 58).