Immediate restriction relaxation is risk to public as NHS still under crippling pressure, warns BMA

BMA press release. 

Location: England
Last reviewed: 19 January 2022
Press release icon

Responding to the announcement made by the PM today on his decision to relax Plan B Covid restrictions, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“Today’s announcement from the Prime Minister risks creating a false sense of security when the levels of infection and illness remain high, and the NHS is still under crippling pressure.

“This decision clearly is not guided by the data. When Plan B was introduced in December, there were 7,373 patients in hospital in the UK- the latest data this week shows there are 18,9791. Case numbers too are nearly twice as many.

“The pressures on the NHS are clear for everyone to see. We have a record backlog of 6 million patients at a time when hospitals are cancelling operations, Trusts are declaring critical incidents and ambulance delays are jeopardising public safety. Removing all restrictions risks a rebound in the number of infections across society, would inevitably increase hospitalisation rates, further destabilise patient care and drive up the rate of staff absences and the number of people with long Covid.

“It is vital that the Government acts according to the data and takes a measured approach. Removing effective infection control measures like mask wearing on public transport and indoor crowded spaces will inevitably increase transmission and place the public at greater risk, especially for those who are vulnerable. We recognise the implications of restrictions on our society, but equally we have seen the impact of the failure to control the virus on the economy, business and education.”

“The announcement by the Prime Minister that he will seek to end self-isolation rules is premature, especially given the statement by the WHO earlier today that the pandemic is far from over amidst high global case rates and the risk of new variants emerging.”

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.

  1. Latest data on coronavirus hospitalisations in the UK.