The Government must introduce measures, such as mandatory face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces, without delay say health leaders.
According to the NHS Confederations, the NHS is seeing worrying increases in coronavirus cases in its hospitals and the community at a time when it is preparing for a busy winter period, its staff are close to burnout, and it is being expected to recover many of its services that were disrupted by the pandemic. The organisation is warning that the extent of this recovery could be at risk without preemptive action over winter from the government and the public.
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‘The NHS has shown that it has been there for its patients throughout the pandemic and is working hard to tackle the increased demand for its services, with 1.1 million procedures and 25.5 million GP appointments delivered in August,’ said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
‘The NHS is preparing for what could be the most challenging winter on record and it will do everything it can to make sure its services are not disrupted but these outside pressures are not solely within its gift to influence. As cases of coronavirus continue to climb, alongside other demands on the health service and pressure on staff capacity in both the NHS and social care, leaders are worried about what could be around the corner.’
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK have exceeded 40,000 for the last seven days, with 43,738 recorded on 19 October and 49,156 on 18 October. The last time cases were in this bracket was in mid-July. Also, English hospitals have seen a 10% increase in Covid-19 cases in the last week, with 7,749 people reported at the last count. Deaths are averaging around 120 a day but today there were 223 deaths within 28 days of a confirmed positive diagnosis.
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‘The government should not wait for COVID infections to rocket and for NHS pressures to be sky high before the panic alarm is sounded,’ added Mr Taylor.
‘Additional investment has been given to the NHS to support its recovery and leaders are committed to putting that to best use as rightly, the public expects a return on its investment but if the government fails to get a grip on the rising cases of coronavirus and other illness, this could be put at risk.’