NHS England's chief executive was today accused of 'abusing' Covid statistics after exaggerating the number of infected patients in hospital with the virus.
During a round of interviews this morning, Amanda Pritchard suggested there were '14 times' more coronavirus patients in hospital now compared to 'this time last year'.
The claim was picked up and circulated by a number of mainstream, left-leaning news outlets including Sky News, ITV and The i.
Ms Pritchard made the comments as she urged people to come forward for their booster vaccines and warned the health service was under 'very real pressure'.
Yet latest data from the Government's dashboard shows there were 800 average daily coronavirus admissions and 7,000 inpatients in England on Friday.
This time in November 2020, for comparison, the country was recording about 1,300 Covid hospitalisations each day and there were more than 11,000 patients in hospital with the disease.
NHS England was later forced to clarify that Ms Pritchard was referring to statistics from the start of September, when Covid hospital rates were in fact higher than the same time last year.
Professor Francois Balloux, director of the University College London Genetics Institute, described Ms Pritchard's claim as 'nonsense' and criticised news organisations for not challenging it.
Other researchers warned that the NHS chief executive had 'abused' the figures while political commentators said it was either the result of 'incompetence or mendacity'.