Implement ‘plan B’ winter measures now or risk NHS crisis, Johnson warned | Coronavirus

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Ministers indispensable urgently instrumentality sweeping “plan B” wintertime measures oregon derail efforts to tackle the backlog of 5 cardinal patients, the caput of the NHS Confederation warned arsenic the UK recorded its highest regular Covid decease toll since March.

Infections person been rising sharply since the commencement of October but the authorities is resisting introducing the other restrictions acceptable retired successful its winter plan specified arsenic masks, vaccine passports and proposal to enactment from home.

On Tuesday the UK reported 223 Covid deaths recorded wrong 28 days of a affirmative trial – the highest for 7 months – portion the seven-day mean for Covid-19 cases stands astatine 44,145 a day. The UK present has 1 of the highest play rates of caller reported cases successful the world.

Downing Street said it was keeping a “very adjacent eye” connected the situation. But Matthew Taylor, main enforcement of the NHS Confederation which represents the healthcare strategy successful England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said contiguous enactment was required to forestall the NHS “stumbling into a crisis” wherever the elective attraction betterment would beryllium jeopardised.

Matthew Taylor, main enforcement of the NHS Confederation. Photograph: Martin Argles/The Guardian

Taylor said: “We are close connected the borderline – and it is the mediate of October. It would necessitate an unthinkable magnitude of luck for america not to find ourselves successful the midst of a profound situation implicit the adjacent 3 months.

“The authorities ought to not conscionable denote that we’re moving to program B, but it should beryllium program B plus. We should bash what’s successful program B successful presumption of masks … moving from home, but besides we should effort to execute the benignant of nationalist mobilisation that we achieved successful the archetypal and 2nd waves, wherever the nationalist went retired of their mode to enactment and assistance the wellness service.”

Ministers should promote the nationalist to bash their spot by utilizing the NHS responsibly, looking retired for neighbours, volunteering oregon adjacent re-entering the healthcare workforce, Taylor added.

“We request that aforesaid consciousness of pulling unneurotic implicit the adjacent fewer months, trying to debar risky behaviour if it’s not necessary. This is not a question of if we don’t bash it thing mightiness happen. If we don’t bash it, it would instrumentality a occurrence for america not to find ourselves successful the midst of a truly profound situation successful our wellness and societal attraction strategy implicit the adjacent 3 months.”

Boris Johnson has said that if the government’s “plan A” – encouraging take-up of Covid booster and flu jabs – was not capable to forestall “unsustainable pressure” connected the NHS it would rotation retired program B. This includes compulsory look masks successful immoderate settings, asking radical to enactment from location and introducing vaccine passports. The premier minister’s authoritative spokesperson yesterday said determination were “no plans” to usage the contingency measures acceptable retired successful the government’s wintertime strategy.

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said Johnson was showing his “characteristic complacency” successful the look of increasing warnings from experts, but stopped abbreviated of calling for “plan B” to beryllium activated. He urged the authorities “to beryllium much vocal, to measurement up and guarantee the nationalist that they person learned the lessons of past year”.

Scientists are besides urging ministers to present program B. Prof Christina Pagel of UCL said: “We are present seeing cases and infirmary admissions rising steadily and an retired of power epidemic wrong schools. The authorities indispensable power to its program B instantly and accelerate rollout of vaccines, including to those who are yet to beryllium vaccinated astatine each oregon are conscionable connected 1 dose.”

Prof Rowland Kao, a subordinate of the SPI-M advisory committee, speaking successful a idiosyncratic capacity, added: “Light interaction measures, particularly wherever these are improbable to negatively interaction people’s livelihoods oregon origin indirect harm, should beryllium invited … I bash deliberation they would beryllium adjuvant now.”

Prof Mark Woolhouse, besides of Spi-M and speaking successful a idiosyncratic capacity, said helium was successful favour of taking immoderate enactment present “because aboriginal enactment tin beryllium little drastic action”.

Prof Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said determination was a request to velocity up boosters and vaccinations of teenagers, whom helium suggested should get 2 doses of a jab to artifact corruption and transmission.

Jim McManus, interim president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said determination was an urgent request “to look earnestly at, and consult on, the nonstop measures and astir due timing of program B … we request to tread cautiously arsenic lockdowns and complacency are extremes we request to avoid”.

The fig of radical waiting for infirmary attraction successful England unsocial has deed a grounds precocious of 5.7 cardinal arsenic the NHS struggles to wide the increasing backlog of attraction worsened by the pandemic.

Taylor said the NHS carried retired 1.1m procedures successful August and that it was facing “rocketing request for infirmary attraction arsenic good arsenic intelligence wellness services, ambulance services and superior care”.

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