It is a Question of When, Rather than if, Further Restrictions Will be Needed

Responding to the Prime Minister’s latest comments about the possibility of further restrictions, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“Health leaders are not calling for further restrictions as they know these can be very damaging to people’s health and wellbeing but given the rising cases of coronavirus and the rapid spread of omicron, they feel it is now a question of when rather than if they will be needed.

“If the Plan B measures and boosters prove not to be enough, they expect the Government to respond quickly and pre-emptively in the national interest to the range of advice and modelling it has. This includes recalling Parliament over the Christmas break if that is needed. This is not just about protecting the NHS and its workforce but about protecting public health and reducing illness.

“Currently, hospitals in England are seeing over 800 admissions with coronavirus every day and around a fifth of national intensive care beds are occupied by people with the disease. On top of that bed occupancy generally is around 93%, November saw record levels of 999 contacts and ambulance call-outs, and mental health, community and primary care services are all seeing high levels of demand. Also, staff sickness levels across the NHS are rising, particularly in London. This is all happening before January which tends to be the busiest month for frontline NHS services.

“The NHS is working incredibly hard to keep disruption to patient care to a minimum and its teams will continue to prioritise essential services alongside vaccinating at record levels against coronavirus but it is likely they will need further support.

“The best thing the public can to is to continue to behave in ways that will keep themselves and others safe, including taking up the offer of a vaccine or booster if they are eligible.”