Health leaders have warned that it is now a question of “when and not if” new Covid restrictions will be enforced.
According to the PA, Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation, has suggested that, given the rapid spread of the coronavirus fueled by the rise of the Omicron variant, tougher measures are inevitable.
The warning follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that he will “reserve the possibility” that further action is required to curb the transmission of Omicron cases.
Mr Taylor said action may need to be taken, including recalling Parliament over the Christmas break.
He warned the NHS could be overwhelmed as the average hospital bed occupancy is already 93%.
He said: “Health officials are not calling for any further restrictions as they know they can be very harmful to people’s health and wellbeing, but with the rising cases of coronavirus and the rapid spread of Omicron, they think it is more now.” a question of when is than? when they are needed.
“If the measures and boosters of Plan B are not enough, they expect the government to react quickly and preventively to their advice and modeling offer in the national interest.
“This also includes recalling Parliament over the Christmas holidays if this is necessary.
“This is not just about protecting the NHS and its workforce, it’s also about protecting public health and reducing disease.”
Mr Taylor added that over 800 people are admitted with coronavirus to hospitals in England every day, with a record 999 calls in November.
He said mental health, community and primary care services are also in high demand, while staff sickness rates are rising across the NHS, particularly in London.
This happens before January, which is usually the busiest month for NHS frontline services.
Mr Taylor also urged people to get the booster vaccination if they are eligible.
He said: “The NHS is working incredibly hard to minimize disruption to patient care and its teams will continue to prioritize vital services besides record-breaking coronavirus vaccination, but they will likely need further assistance.
“The best the public can do is to continue to behave in a way that protects themselves and others, including taking a vaccine or a booster if they are entitled.”
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