Responding to the Government’s announcement that England will enter another national lockdown, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “It’s clear that we need a major intervention to bring down the spread of this virus, especially the new more aggressive variant, given that the NHS in on the brink - currently facing exponential demand for care beyond what can be supplied in many places.
“Hospitals are stretched to breaking point, with doctors reporting unbearable workloads as they take on more Covid-19 admissions alongside the growing backlog of people who need other, non-Covid care. Doctors are desperate, with some even comparing their working environment to a warzone as wards overflow, waiting lists grow, and ambulances queue outside hospitals because there are now so many people with Covid-19.
“As a result, the NHS is currently facing a perfect storm of immense workload and staff burnout and more cases expected as we see the impact of Christmas on infection rates.
“The vaccination of healthcare workers needs to be significantly sped up so that health and care staff across the country are prioritised to receive both the first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to help keep them free of the virus, so they can continue to provide the care so vitally needed by so many.
“The decision to close primary and secondary schools for the foreseeable future is also essential to containing the spread of this new variant. While the BMA believes they must be the first to reopen after this lockdown, we know that the percentage of positive tests is currently rising fastest among school-aged children, particularly those in secondary education, and that this is having a huge impact on community transmission.
“No one likes being told how to live their life, but the reality is that without these tougher measures, the further this virus will spread, potentially taking more lives and damaging the NHS beyond repair. This lockdown is temporary, but the grief and loss suffered by those because of Covid-19 is enduring - and a stark reminder of our collective responsibility to ensure that it is not this virus that wins, but us.”
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.