Ministers should urgently implement sweeping “plan B” winter measures or derail efforts to sort out the backlog of 5 million sufferers, the pinnacle of the NHS Confederation warned because the UK recorded its highest day by day Covid loss of life toll since March.
Infections have been rising sharply for the reason that begin of October however the authorities is resisting introducing the additional restrictions set out in its winter plan similar to masks, vaccine passports and recommendation to make money working from home.
On Tuesday the UK reported 223 Covid deaths recorded inside 28 days of a optimistic check – the very best for seven months – whereas the seven-day common for Covid-19 instances stands at 44,145 a day. The UK now has one of many highest weekly charges of latest reported instances on the planet.
Downing Road mentioned it was maintaining a “very shut eye” on the scenario. However Matthew Taylor, chief government of the NHS Confederation which represents the healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Eire, mentioned fast motion was required to forestall the NHS “stumbling right into a disaster” the place the elective care restoration could be jeopardised.
Taylor mentioned: “We’re proper on the sting – and it’s the center of October. It could require an unbelievable quantity of luck for us to not discover ourselves within the midst of a profound disaster over the following three months.
“The federal government must not simply announce that we’re transferring to plan B, nevertheless it ought to be plan B plus. We must always do what’s in plan B by way of masks … working from house, but additionally we should always attempt to obtain the type of nationwide mobilisation that we achieved within the first and second waves, the place the general public went out of their option to help and assist the well being service.”
Ministers ought to encourage the general public to do their bit through the use of the NHS responsibly, searching for neighbours, volunteering and even re-entering the healthcare workforce, Taylor added.
“We’d like that very same sense of pulling collectively over the following few months, attempting to keep away from dangerous behaviour if it’s not vital. This isn’t a query of if we don’t do it one thing may occur. If we don’t do it, it might take a miracle for us to not discover ourselves within the midst of a extremely profound disaster in our well being and social care system over the following three months.”
Boris Johnson has mentioned that if the federal government’s “plan A” – encouraging take-up of Covid booster and flu jabs – was not enough to forestall “unsustainable strain” on the NHS it might roll out plan B. This consists of obligatory face masks in some settings, asking folks to make money working from home and introducing vaccine passports. The prime minister’s official spokesman yesterday mentioned there have been “no plans” to make use of the contingency measures set out within the authorities’s winter technique.
The Labour chief, Sir Keir Starmer, mentioned Johnson was displaying his “attribute complacency” within the face of rising warnings from specialists, however stopped in need of calling for “plan B” to be activated. He urged the federal government “to be extra vocal, to step up and guarantee the general public that they’ve discovered the teachings of final yr”.
Scientists are additionally urging ministers to introduce plan B. Prof Christina Pagel of UCL mentioned: “We are actually seeing instances and hospital admissions rising steadily and an uncontrolled epidemic inside colleges. The federal government should change to its plan B instantly and speed up rollout of vaccines, together with to those that are but to be vaccinated in any respect or are simply on one dose.”
Prof Rowland Kao, a member of the SPI-M advisory committee, talking in a private capability, added: “Mild contact measures, particularly the place these are unlikely to negatively affect folks’s livelihoods or trigger oblique hurt, ought to be welcome … I do suppose they’d be useful now.”
Prof Mark Woolhouse, additionally of Spi-M and talking in a private capability, mentioned he was in favour of taking some motion now “as a result of early motion might be much less drastic motion”.
Prof Neil Ferguson, from Imperial Faculty London, mentioned there was a necessity to hurry up boosters and vaccinations of youngsters, whom he steered ought to get two doses of a jab to dam an infection and transmission.
Jim McManus, interim president of the Affiliation of Administrators of Public Well being, mentioned there was an pressing want “to look critically at, and seek the advice of on, the precise measures and most applicable timing of plan B … we have to tread rigorously as lockdowns and complacency are extremes we have to keep away from”.
The variety of folks ready for hospital remedy in England alone has hit a document excessive of 5.7 million because the NHS struggles to clear the rising backlog of care worsened by the pandemic.
Taylor mentioned the NHS carried out 1.1m procedures in August and that it was going through “rocketing demand for hospital care in addition to psychological well being companies, ambulance companies and first care”.
In the meantime, the NHS will at the moment launch an attraction for 100,000 new blood donors as new figures reveal the variety of lively donors shrank final yr to its lowest stage since 1996. There’s a specific must recruit extra black donors to deal with sufferers with sickle cell illness, the quickest rising genetic blood situation within the UK.