Responding to the announcement today by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on changes to the pandemic lockdown measures, BMA chair of council Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:
“The Government can bring in measures that affect millions of people with just three hours’ notice, but the simple and effective measure of extending the face covering rules in England won’t happen for another eight days. Whilst the BMA is pleased that the Government has taken this step – something the Association first called for in April – the eight-day delay only highlights the inconsistencies of this Government and the confused, mixed messages received by the public.
“Information about local infection rates, wearing masks and social distancing should be simple and as easily available as an advert on a bus shelter.”
He went on:
“The threat of a second wave is increasing daily and it is sensible that further easing of lockdown has been postponed. What does not make sense is the decision to remove, tomorrow, the protection for thousands of people who have been shielding without them being properly risk assessed and mitigations put in place to reduce their risk of infection – such as medical grade face masks.
“How can it be deemed right for those people to be put at increased risk when on the other hand the Prime Minister says theatres can’t open, concerts can go ahead and neither can small wedding celebrations? He’s also encouraging more people to go into their workplaces without offering any real support or clear guidance to either staff or employers if they feel it’s unsafe to do so.
“We started the pandemic with record waits in A&E and for cancer patients, and around 4.5 million patients on the waiting this for elective care. This backlog could now reach 10 million by the end of the year, and patients waiting over one year for treatment increased from around 1,600 in February to more than 26,000 in May. The latest ONS figures show there to be 4,200 new cases per day, compared with 2,800 the week ago. A second wave could prove catastrophic for the NHS; the Government must recognise that and provide clear effective plans to prevent it. At present it feels more as if there is tinkering around the edge.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
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