Sunday, 29 May 2022

Soaring cases of Covid and rise in deaths 'will hit NHS like winter this Easter'

A ‘brutal’ Easter could be faced by the NHS as the country faces a record high level of Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions.

The NHS Confederation has accused the government of ‘abandoning the health service’ as the UK is in the grip of another spike in coronavirus cases. Health bosses called for the reintroduction of protective measures.

Prime minister Boris Johnson put an end to restrictions some weeks ago under his ‘living with Covid’ plan, which saw the end of the requirement to self-isolate and of free lateral flow tests.

But he has been urged to rethink his strategy as there is a ‘clear disconnect’ between the plan and the realities facing health care staff, the Confederation said.

Chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter.

‘But instead of the understanding and support NHS staff received in 2020 and 2021, we have a government that seems to want to wash its hands of responsibility for what is occurring in plain sight.’

Since the end of restrictions, most of the UK has seen a rise in positive cases with one in 13 people, or 4.1 million people, in England likely to have Covid-19 in the week to April 2, according to the Office for National Statistics.

With some 20,000 patients in hospital with the virus – or who have coronavirus but are in receiving treatment for other reasons – the high demand for emergency care services and staff absences is seeing the NHS face huge operational challenges.

‘No 10 has seemingly abandoned any interest in Covid whatsoever,’ Mr Taylor added. ‘It is unclear that anyone in the centre of government feels the unfolding NHS crisis is their responsibility.

‘NHS leaders and their teams feel abandoned by the government, and they deserve better. We have been promised a “living with Covid” plan yet all we have is a “living without restrictions” ideology.’

The NHS Confederation is calling for the government to reconsider its ‘living with Covid’ strategy and introduce mitigating actions that will help avoid further critical incidents on the NHS frontline.

These include encouraging mask-wearing in crowded public spaces, and social gatherings to take place in outdoor or well-ventilated spaces.

It has asked for a more honest messaging to the public about the scale of Covid-19, amid concerns the current approach is ‘tending to mislead the public and discourage them to take steps and reduce transmission’.

‘Covid is far from over as ministers appear to want to believe and we urge them to get a grip on this – both for the current spike in infections but also for potential future ones,’ Mr Taylor said.

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