Coronavirus: The NHS will not collapse, health leaders say
The NHS will not collapse during the Coronavirus second wave. However, lockdown is needed to stop major disruption to care, health leaders in England say.
They warned the NHS was not facing a “normal winter” with more than 10,000 patients in hospital with Covid.
As well as, the evidence presented by NHS England at a press briefing suggested hospitals could take a maximum of around 20,000 Covid cases before they were full.
It warned this could happen within weeks unless infection levels reduce.
The restrictions, which include the closure of pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops, are due to last until 2 December.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the spread of the virus needs to be minimized, to help avoid future problems.
However, if MPs vote in favour of the lockdown – as they are expected to – it would mean there would not need to be a mass cancellation of non-urgent work, Sir Simon said.
He added: “However well-prepared hospitals, the NHS, GP surgeries are, it is going to be a difficult period.”
He said: “We want to try and ensure that the health service is there for everybody, minimising the disruption to the full range of care that we provide, not just Covid but cancer services, routine operations and mental health services.”
Sir Simon also announced it was moving to its highest alert level.
It means staff can be sent to different hospitals across the country to help deal with surges in patients.
Patients can also be transferred around the country. This is thought to be unlikely for Covid patients who are really sick. However, it could see cancer patients and those needing routine treatments getting care for outside their regions.
Earlier, Sir Simon said the NHS would be “geared up” to deliver a potential vaccine. Hoped before Christmas, if one becomes available.
Sir Simon told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.”There are over 200 vaccines in development and we believe that we should hopefully get one or more of those available from the first part of next year.
“In anticipation of that, we’re also gearing the NHS up to be ready. To make a start on administering Covid vaccines before Christmas, if they become available.”
Sir Simon later told the press briefing the NHS’s “central expectation” was that a vaccine would be possible by the start of next year.
He also suggested that all patient-facing NHS staff would soon be given routine testing, regardless of symptoms.
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