In his statement to the House of Commons today (Monday 14 December), the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced that Greater London and parts of both Essex and Hertfordshire will be moved into tier three and also, that a new strain of coronavirus has been identified, which appears to be growing fast in the South East of England and other areas.
In response, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“NHS leaders are deeply concerned about the sharp rises in coronavirus in some parts of the country and the worsening impact that will continue to have on their services.
“It is right that the Government responds to these concerns by placing more regions of the country into tier three but given the lag between infection and serious illness, coupled with a new strain of coronavirus having been identified, we have to ask whether these rules will be enough to protect the population in the short term.
“This is particularly true given that we are less than two weeks away from restrictions on household socializing being eased significantly over the festive period.
“A close eye on enabling the public to follow the rules, such as by providing the home testing kits in the hardest hit areas, is needed, as is ongoing support for the NHS to cope with the ripple effects of these restrictions elsewhere, including further disruption to elective waiting lists and on people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“We are fortunate to be the first country in the world to be rolling out a coronavirus vaccine but it will take time for hospitals and primary care sites to immunize the high risk groups and so, now a time for increased vigilance and realism.”