Responding to the Prime Minister's announcement of a new national lockdown in England from Thursday, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“The Government’s decision to put England into a second lockdown, is the right one and the only option left, dictated by the exponential rise in the infection levels and a very real threat that the NHS will be overwhelmed if nothing was done.
“The BMA has been calling for all decisions about this pandemic to be based on the best scientific evidence available and it is regrettable that warnings form SAGE were not actioned as long ago as 21 September.
“We know this will be painful for the public, but the alternative of a health service with overfull hospitals unable to treat seriously ill patients would have been devastating.
“What is vital now is a clear exit strategy. We cannot afford to have a repeat of the first lockdown – which was followed by a rebound surge in infection and impacts on the nation’s mental health – where the economy is made even more fragile and where the NHS and its workers teeter on the verge of collapse because of delays, confusing rules and guidance that doesn’t work.
“This lockdown period must also be used ensure we develop a fit for purpose test and trace programme with the capacity and responsiveness to promptly isolate those with infection to contain spread. This will need investment in local public health teams and an end the fragmented outsourcing arrangements that have failed to deliver at scandalous cost.
“The public must not be expected to suffer and sacrifice so much again. It is vital that this lockdown is followed by a coherent and effective infection prevention strategy to keep this dreadful virus under control.”
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.