Responding to the press conference given by Health Secretary Sajid Javid today in which he said that the number of Covid cases are expected to rise to 100,000 a day and that the Westminster Government would not be implementing its ‘Plan B’ at this stage, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:
“The Westminster Government said it would enact ‘Plan B’ to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed; as doctors working on the frontline, we can categorically say that time is now.
“By the Health Secretary’s own admission we could soon see 100,000 cases a day and we now have the same number of weekly Covid deaths as we had during March, when the country was in lockdown. It is therefore incredibly concerning that he is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and to protect the NHS. Especially as we head into winter, when the NHS is in the grips of tackling the largest backlog of care, with an already depleted and exhausted workforce.
“The Government has taken its foot off the brake, giving the impression that the pandemic is behind us and that life has returned to normal. The reality today is an unacceptable rate of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, unheard of in similar European nations. In comparison to France, we have more than 10 times the number of cases and almost four times as many deaths per million.
“It is wilfully negligent of the Westminster Government not to be taking any further action to reduce the spread of infection, such as mandatory mask wearing, physical distancing and ventilation requirements in high-risk settings, particularly indoor crowded spaces. These are measures that are the norm in many other nations.
“While new treatments are always welcome, the UK Government itself has said these will not be available to patients until at least the end of the year, but urgent action is needed now to stem the scale of suffering and the real risk of overwhelming the NHS.
“It’s vital that the Government does everything to ensure it is made as simple and easy as possible for people to receive their booster, or even their first and second jab, especially in groups where uptake is lower. However, relying on the vaccination programme alone without other measures will not be sufficient to prevent rising infection rates, illness and deaths, given that no vaccine is 100% effective.
“Only last week two select committees found the UK was an international outlier when it came to public health policy during this crisis. We are rapidly approaching a position where, yet again, the Government is delaying for too long, and equivocating over taking action. This is the time to learn the lessons of the past and act fast, or else we will face far more extreme measures later.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union 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.