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Fact check: Manchester video does not contradict media reports that hospitals are at capacity

A video said to be filmed at Manchester Royal Infirmary claims that hospitals are empty during the pandemic and that media reports suggesting otherwise are dishonest. This is incorrect: news outlets have covered the real pressure being experienced by UK hospitals.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The 15-minute clip has 13,464 thousand views on Instagram and is captioned: “Manchester Royal Infirmary is NOT how the Mainstream Media is portraying its capacity is” (here).

The video shows a man walking round the hospital corridors stating: “just like all the hospitals that other people have filmed, there’s nobody here.” (10:28)

At one point, the man recording the video has an argument with a staff member, telling him: “You’re complicit mate, you’re complicit in these lies, you are. You know there’s nobody in the hospitals, you’re lying, you’re keeping this pandemic going mate, you’re a disgrace.” (13:30)

However, the footage is not representative of the pandemic’s impact on hospitals. A spokesperson for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “The video was filmed in non-patient areas, such as corridors and stairwells. Patients are based on wards, side rooms and in treatment areas – none of which were included in this film.

“Due to the pandemic, visiting restrictions were and are currently in place at the time this video was filmed, resulting in reduced footfall in the corridors and public access areas. During this time, we have seen increased admissions for patients with COVID, which are reflected in nationally published statistics.”

Just under 4,000 coronavirus patients are currently on ventilation in the UK with 355,143 COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital in the past seven days, according to government figures at the time of publication (here).

Media reports have also reflected that hospitals are struggling across the country. The BBC reported on Jan. 18 that ten hospital trusts across England consistently had no spare adult critical care beds (here) and the UK’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance likened hospitals to a warzone on Jan. 20 (here).

The video is the latest in a spate of videos showing quiet corridors in some hospital buildings. The BBC News Reality Check team recently examined these videos (www.bbc.co.uk/news/55560714) and reported: “because of the way healthcare trusts have reorganised hospitals, often separating Covid patients from others, and cancelling non-urgent care to free up capacity, some parts of hospital buildings will currently look empty. That doesn’t mean hospitals aren’t busy.” 

Reuters has also published fact checks into individual clips showing quiet hospital corridors (here , here and here) finding they provided no evidence that authorities or the media have lied about the extent of the pressure on health services.

VERDICT

False. Official statistics and media reports show that hospitals are struggling with patient capacity due to the surge in COVID-19 patients. This is not disproven by a video tour showing part of a single hospital.

Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts reuters.com/fact-check/about  .

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