A second wave of coronavirus will cause more suffering than the first, according to Professor Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
A second wave of coronavirus will cause more suffering than the first if Britons don’t physically distance and wear face masks, according to the UK’s top doctors.
The warning comes after the Government was accused of sending mixed messages about face coverings and returning to work.
Medics believe there will be a deadly resurgence of Covid-19 during the colder months, when the virus finds it easier to survive and spread because people spend more time indoors.
They say this, combined with a seasonal flu outbreak and a huge backlog of patients waiting for treatment due to delays during the pandemic, could devastate an already-stretched NHS.
Boris Johnson announced his plans to get the country back to normal by Christmas, with Britons being encouraged to go back to work and almost all amenities reopening by July 25. The PM also revealed plans to get live crowds back at sporting events and concerts in the coming months.
But the announcements were met by an outpouring of criticism by scientists who say the virus is still ‘rife’ and people becoming complacent could fuel a second epidemic.
Professor Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said medics and healthcare workers were ‘totally reliant on the public understanding that this has certainly not disappeared and could come back and cause even more suffering for the population’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech today that the UK Government was hoping to return the country to something like normality ‘possibly in time for Christmas’
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser to the Government, and Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, today appeared in front of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
Dr Alison Pittard, head of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, told the Guardian: ‘People might think Covid is over with, why do I have to wear a face mask,. But it isn’t over. We still have Covid patients in intensive care.
‘If the public don’t physically distance and don’t wear face coverings we could very quickly get back to where we were earlier this year.’
Face masks will be mandatory in shops in England starting on Friday and anyone who flouts the rules could face £100 fines. Face coverings have been compulsory on public transport since last month.
Up to 120,000 Britons could die in ‘worst-case scenario’ second wave
Doctors have demanded ministers set out a clear strategy to prevent a second Covid-19 wave amid fears it could kill triple the number of Brits as the first outbreak.
But the grim prediction only looked at hospital deaths and did not factor in fatalities in care homes – which have accounted for a third of the near-45,000 lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths so far.
The report laid out 20 steps the UK Government must take to mitigate the chance of the deadly resurgence – including stocking up on PPE, vaccinating millions more Britons against the flu and rapidly improving contact tracing.
But the Royal College of GPs claimed medics have been left in limbo without clear guidance about how they should get ready for a second influx of coronavirus patients.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said the College needed reassurances immediately that staff and patients would be protected if the crisis spirals back out of control.
He added: ‘The College has been advocating for comprehensive planning to ensure the UK is prepared for a potential second wave or local peaks of the Covid-19 virus.
‘We will do what is necessary, in the best interests of patient care, but we need to know what the plans are and have the appropriate guidance and resources to swiftly respond to a second wave of the virus, mitigating its potential severity and helping to keep patients and their wider communities safe.’
But they are not being required in offices because ministers believe they would offer little protection when someone spends hours beside an infected co-worker.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair of the British Medical Association, said: ‘Everyone has their role to play, but there needs to be clear, concise public messaging.
‘To introduce measures for shops, but not other situations where physical distancing is not possible – including some workplaces – is illogical and adds to confusion and the risk of the virus spreading.’
The Government only U-turned on face masks last month, after telling the public throughout the crisis there was no scientific evidence they worked.
SAGE says the UK’s new infections are shrinking at a rate of between 1 and 5 per cent per day.
But at least 1,700 people are still getting infected every 24 hours in England alone – a figure that has not changed in a week.
And on Sunday, the Scottish Government recorded a rise in new cases for the fifth day in a row, with 23 people testing positive – the highest daily rate since 21 June.
Both Sir Patrick and chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, have since said the coronavirus challenges in the UK will be ‘very much greater’ in the winter because the season ‘benefits’ the virus.
Sir Patrick told members of the House of Lords on Friday: ‘As you release measures it is inevitable as you get more contacts that you will see more cases… Come winter, the challenges will be very much greater and of course there is a risk that this could need national measures’.
His counterpart, Professor Whitty, also hinted lockdown rules might return as colder weather sets in, explaining people may have ‘a group of things you could do for three seasons of the year but it may be that in winter this is more difficult’.
During his address to the nation last week, Mr Johnson hevaily encouraged all workers to return to their offices if it was safe to do so.
But he stopped short of ordering them to return after Sir Patrick said there was ‘absolutely no reason’ to change the existing policy of people working from home.
Meanwhile, experts are growing concerned that the NHS contact tracing system is up to scratch yet to deal with the constant easing of lockdown measures.
It emerged over the weekend that tracers have only been finding 37 per cent of infected patients, according to a top civil servant. They need to track down at least half to keep the outbreak squashed.
The system, considered paramount to keeping a lid on local outbreaks and avoiding a national lockdown, is also reaching half of people in Blackburn – which is being kept under review amid rising cases.
Professor Dominic Harrison – public health director of Blackburn with Darwen Council – revealed the figures over the weekend, and warned of an ‘exponential growth’ in cases if it didn’t become more efficient.
The Department of Health defended the system, with a spokesperson saying: ‘It has already helped test and isolate more than 180,000 cases – helping us control the spread of the virus, prevent a second wave and save lives.’
Fewer than half of contacts were reached in Oldham, St Helens, Manchester and Rochdale, according to a leaked report seen by The Independent.
One in three office workers want to continue working from home after coronavirus threat is over, survey reveals
One in three office workers want to continue working from home after the coronavirus threat is over, a survey has revealed.
The study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of employees will be working from home on any one day in 2021, as reported by The Telegraph.
The survey also showed a strong demand from Brits for more flexible working, up from a tenth in 2019, with 32 per cent of people expecting to at least partially work from home even after the pandemic has eased.
Pablo Shah, a senior economist at the CEBR, told the newspaper: ‘This seismic shift, taking place in months rather than decades, will transform the worlds of property, transport, retail, leisure and, not least, fashion. Ten years ago, this would not have been possible.’
It comes as Boris Johnson altered guidance on Friday for home workers in an effort to get them back to offices and save Britain’s High Streets which continue to be deserted despite the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Commuters wearing face masks walk through the ticket barriers at Waterloo Station in London on June 15
Fewer than one in six workers in cities have returned to the office – fuelling fears over the survival of cafes, pubs and restaurants.
However Mr Johnson’s new guidance put him at odds with Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, who told MPs on Friday that working remotely ‘remains a perfectly good option’.
He then went even further as he said many companies had found working from home had not been ‘detrimental to productivity’ and as a result there is no need to move away from the policy.
Yesterday the Foreign Secretary admitted there will be more remote working even after the coronavirus threat has passed.
But stressed that the country was in the middle of a ‘severe economic downturn’ and it would help if fewer people worked from home now that the virus is receding.
Yesterday the Foreign Secretary admitted there will be more remote working even after the coronavirus threat has passed
However attitudes to returning to the office appear to be changing, poll released at the weekend has suggested.
It found 54 per cent believed it was worth the risk of travelling back to work to avoid an economic crash, the Sun on Sunday found.
In an interview at the weekend, Boris Johnson said he wanted to avoid a second nationwide lockdown, comparing it to a ‘nuclear deterrent’.
He told the Sunday Telegraph that he ‘certainly’ does not want another blanket shutdown and ‘nor do I think we will be in that position again’.
The new guidance states that from August 1, employers can urge workers to come back to their office so long as it is Covid-secure.
Mr Raab said yesterday on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘What we have said is from August 1, while we’re carefully monitoring the virus, we do need to get the economy back firing on all cylinders as best we can.
Commuters wearing a face mask travel on TfL Victoria Line underground train carriages, heading towards central London, on June 15
‘We know we’re in the middle of a severe downturn. And so we’re making sure, with employers, that they’ve got the Covid-secure workplaces in place and we’ve had great co-operation from business.
‘And we’re also saying to employers – you’ve got this remote working facility, we know that’s important. I think we’ll all do a bit more remote working in the future.
‘But we also trust employers to say, ‘Actually, do you know what? We do need more people coming back to work’. And therefore we’re giving them that discretion. I think that’s right.’
Some of Britain’s largest employers say they will allow staff to work from home for months to come.
In London, only one worker in eight has gone back. In the City, just 800 of Goldman Sachs’ 6,000 London staff have returned.
Fewer than 2,000 of the 12,000 at JP Morgan are back. The figures come from an analysis of mobile phone data in 67 cities by the Centre for Cities think-tank on behalf of the Times.
The data suggests that Basildon in Essex has seen the highest proportion of staff go back, at 49 per cent, and Edinburgh the least at 12 per cent.
Workers in the biggest cities are the least likely to have returned amid fears over the risk of long commutes on public transport.
The figures correspond with official data showing that rail services were operating at only 16 per cent capacity. The roads are back to 86 per cent of normal levels.
Andrew Carter, of Centre for Cities, said: ‘Many office workers understandably will continue to work from home even as Covid-19 restrictions lift, and whilst this may well be the right decision for them as individuals, for the national economy the sum of these decisions will have a cost.’
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Education watchdog backs tuition fee refunds for students if the quality of their course drops
Students at universities hit by coronavirus should seek tuition fee refunds if the quality of their course slips, the higher education watchdog said last night.
At least 40 universities have recorded virus cases – around one in four – leaving thousands of students locked down in halls.
They have complained of ‘disgusting’ conditions as they are essentially sealed off from the outside world.
The situation has caused growing anger over the prospect of no face-to-face learning despite fees of up to £9,250 per year.
The Office for Students (OfS) regulator has now urged students who feel the quality of their education has been affected to complain, warning universities not to take a ‘blanket policy’ against refunds.
Chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: ‘Students have a right to good quality higher education – whether that is taught online, in-person or a mixture of the two.
Students at universities hit by coronavirus should seek tuition fee refunds if the quality of their course slips, the higher education watchdog said last night. They have complained of ‘disgusting’ conditions as they are essentially sealed off from the outside world.
‘Where they feel this is not happening they can raise concerns with their university, escalating complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator where a resolution cannot be found.
‘They can also inform the OfS, and we can and will investigate if we believe that universities have not taken all reasonable steps to protect standards or where quality is slipping for groups of students.’
She added: ‘In considering whether to make partial tuition fee refunds, we would expect a university to consider the circumstances for each student rather than to adopt a blanket policy that refunds are not available.’
Schools should be the last places to close in any future lockdowns, say children’s watchdog
Schools should be the last places to be closed in any future lockdowns, the children’s watchdog said yesterday.
It was wrong to allow pubs and stores such as pet shops to open early in the summer while children were kept at home, Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield, pictured, said. She called on ministers to see that ‘schools are the last to close and first to reopen if there are further lockdowns’.
The pressure from Miss Longfield, the Government’s observer of how children are being treated, comes amid widening concern over the prospect that millions of children will again be deprived of education if infections continue to rise and lockdowns are reimposed.
It follows research indicating that children are 40 per cent less likely than adults to contract Covid-19.
Professor Russell Viner, of University College London, said: ‘The key thing about this research is that it supports keeping schools open.
‘Schools need to be open and be almost the last places to close. As part of learning to live with this virus, we need to be keeping schools open.’
Mrs Dandridge insisted universities must be clear about how to access food and virus tests during outbreaks.
Ahead of the academic year, students were promised a ‘high-quality, full and exciting university experience’ but scenes of chaos have emerged on some campuses.
National Union of Students president Larissa Kennedy blasted the ‘disgusting conditions’ some students are living in and questioned the legality of their confinement.
She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain certain students were short of food and asked ‘whether it has been legal to keep them cooped up in that way without that access to the things that they need’.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), where 1,700 students are isolating, yesterday said they would be refunded more than a week’s rent and provided a ‘basic food’ package.
Many students complained they felt like they were in a ‘prison camp’ with guards preventing them from leaving and officials ordering them to take down ‘SOS’-style posters hung in windows.
One said: ‘I’m a bit worried that I paid £6,000 when I could have just done it online, lived at home and then moved in in my second year.’
University vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said a ‘significant amount of money’ would be handed back, on top of food, to ensure students felt ‘protected and cared for’. Glasgow University has also offered isolating students a refund of one month’s rent, along with a £50 payment for food following an outbreak there.
The refunds could open the floodgates for claims at universities across the UK. Universities UK, which represents institutions, said blanket refunds were ‘unaffordable’ because of the amount spent preparing for the academic year during the pandemic.
A spokesman said: ‘Universities have spent much more compared with a normal year on Covid-19 safety measures, enhanced digital learning platforms and putting additional student learning support and catch-up study in place.
‘In this very difficult year, universities are aiming to provide a high-quality and engaging educational experience for their students, while prioritising their physical and mental wellbeing.’
Some opposition MPs backed calls by the lecturers’ union, the UCU, demanding all universities switch to online teaching.
Over the summer, universities were fearful of financial chaos if students stayed away and in June promised them ‘significant in-person teaching and a wide range of social activities’.
Ahead of the academic year, students were promised a ‘high-quality, full and exciting university experience’ but scenes of chaos have emerged on some campuses. Pictured: Two students locked down at a halls of residence in Manchester
But UCU leader Dr Jo Grady said encouraging students to move into halls despite the danger looked ‘like a cynical effort to extract accommodation fees and then worry about what to do’.
She added: ‘We believe a summer spent selling a university experience to prospective students that couldn’t be delivered would have been better spent following the science and preparing properly for this inevitable crisis.’
Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh said students looked like they were being used as ‘cash cows’, adding: ‘Surely these problems could have been anticipated before term started?’
She told the BBC: ‘Students like to have fun, like to go out in freshers’ week – that’s not news to anyone is it?’
Downing Street said it expected students would be allowed to return home for Christmas after Scotland also softened its guidance after an outcry north of the border.
Meanwhile, Exeter University is asking students who live in the city not to meet indoors with anyone who is not part of their household.
It said there had been a ‘continued rise’ in student Covid-19 cases. The university said the move does not mean students ‘cannot go out’ and listed a number of exceptions, including study, work or in an emergency situation where people are in danger.
Over the summer, universities were fearful of financial chaos if students stayed away and in June promised them ‘significant in-person teaching and a wide range of social activities’. Pictured: A student puts a ‘Help Us’ made out of sticky notes on their window
Last night universities minister Michelle Donelan warned institutions they ‘must give as much clarity to students as possible on the tuition they will be receiving and should ensure that guidance on Covid-19 testing and welfare and emergency resources is readily available’.
Meanwhile, lawyers are looking into securing damages for false imprisonment on behalf of nine students who claim that they were placed under an illegal lockdown.
It came after Manchester City Council instructed the 1,700 MMU students to self-isolate – with some describing how security guards refused to let them leave the campus.
Over the weekend, human rights lawyers suggested the students had a case for claiming false imprisonment, as a change in the law enabling self-isolation to be enforced did not take effect until yesterday.
Merseyside-based Levins Solicitors confirmed that it was taking action on behalf of students ‘trapped’ in halls.
The firm’s Jon Heath said it was a ‘really important principle’.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Will negative interest rates be forced on us? UK could make savers PAY banks to hold their cash
Savers could soon have to pay to keep their money in a bank if negative interest rates are enforced.
Many have suffered negligible rates for more than a decade and most high street banks now pay a pittance at 0.01 per cent.
But experts last night said rewards for starved savers could fall even further still after the Bank of England hinted interest rates could go below zero for the first time ever.
But experts last night said rewards for starved savers could fall even further still after the Bank of England hinted interest rates could go below zero for the first time ever
Negative rates have been adopted by Japan and the eurozone in a bid to encourage spending.
Silvana Tenreyro, of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, said this weekend that there was ‘encouraging’ evidence the policy could fuel a recovery in the virus-ravaged economy.
A negative base rate would mean the Bank of England would charge banks and building societies to hold money – a cost that could be passed on to customers.
The Bank set the base rate at an all-time low of 0.1 per cent in March in an effort to boost the economy in the face of the pandemic.
Interest rates paid on savings have plummeted since.
Rachel Springall, from data firm Moneyfacts, said: ‘Savers might feel like interest rates couldn’t possibly go any lower – but they would be wrong.’
Andrew Hagger, of personal finance website MoneyComms, said: ‘If negative interest rates were introduced, it would decimate an already depressed savings market with a tsunami of rate cuts.’
Tom Selby, an analyst at investment broker AJ Bell, said negative rates could drive desperate savers to gamble on the stock market.
He said: ‘A rate cut will be another body blow for savers who are already struggling to get a decent rate.
‘Indeed, getting any kind of return at all on your money may become all but impossible unless you are willing to take some stock market risk.’
But negative rates should provide relief to struggling borrowers, who could see the interest payments on debts such as mortgages fall.
Anna Bowes, of advice website Savings Champion, said banks could start to charge savers in the way that some current accounts charge a fee.
However, she said there would likely still be ‘plenty’ of providers keen to raise money from savings customers.
National Savings and Investments (NS&I) last week announced a raft of brutal rate cuts that will hit its 25million customers – including those who hold Premium Bonds.
Yesterday Bank of England deputy governor Dave Ramsden voiced opposition to setting negative interest rates.
‘We’re not about to use [negative rates] imminently.
‘I see the effective lower bound still at 0.1 per cent, which is where Bank rate is at present,’ he told the Society of Professional Economists.
Commentary by Ruth Sutherland
The concept of negative interest rates – where debtors are rewarded and thrift is punished – sounds far too crazy to be a serious policy measure.
Until, that is, you consider that the biggest borrowers are governments, not least our own.
Public borrowing has ballooned due to coronavirus and pushed the prospect of negative rates to the top of the agenda.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak ran up an overdraft of nearly £36billion last month alone, taking our total national debt to more than £2trillion.
Hence, the drip feed of recent hints from the Bank of England that it might slash borrowing costs below zero in the hope of salvaging our debt-raddled economy.
What the economists advocating this policy do not spell out, however, is the impact on savers, who are once again being treated with contempt.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) ran up an overdraft of nearly £36billion last month alone, taking our total national debt to more than £2trillion
For most people, the very thought of negative interest rates is perplexing.
Does it mean the bank actually pays us to take out mortgages and that we have to stump up for our savings accounts? Not quite.
It does, however, lead us through a portal into a topsy-turvy world of Alice in Wonderland economics.
A negative rate policy works like this. Commercial banks are compelled to hand over fees for any cash they keep at the Bank of England, above the minimum they are obliged to stash away for safety reasons.
This is supposed to encourage them to lend more money, which in theory should fuel growth in the economy.
The jury is out on whether it is effective. Negative rates have been deployed in some major economies in recent years including the eurozone and Japan, neither of which have been a roaring economic success story.
As a policy, it is confusing and disorienting, which in itself reduces confidence. What it would mean for borrowers and savers in practical terms depends on how the banks react.
In other countries there have been cases of below-zero mortgage rates, including a home loan charging minus 0.5 per cent in Denmark.
The Danish bank does not actually pay borrowers a cheque in interest payments every month, it knocks the amount off the debt.
On a £100,000 mortgage, for example, the debt would fall by £500 in the first year even with no repayments.
This is not likely to happen in the UK. Many borrowers are on fixed rates which stay the same no matter how base rates fluctuate.
Most tracker products, which are also popular, have a clause in the small print stopping them going negative.
Banks will be very reluctant to charge people to deposit money for fear of widespread outrage.
Even so, there is no doubt negative interest rates would be an unmitigated disaster for the thrifty.
There is no get out of jail free card for our heavily indebted government, whether that be negative rates or another cunning plan.
It is savers – already the innocent victims of the financial crisis of 2008, which ushered in years of ultra-low interest rates – who will pay the price.
One danger is that they will start to keep their money under the mattress, or sidestep the mainstream banks and shift into cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
We HAVE already seen thousands turning in desperation to risky investments such as those touted by the disgraced financier Neil Woodford.
One might argue that negative rates have been with us for some time, in all but name.
In real terms, after taking account of inflation, savers have been losing money on most accounts for years.
But cutting to below zero would send out a powerful message that anyone aspiring to build a nest egg is at the bottom of the priority list.
We have to ask what kind of values that promotes.
It isn’t just savers who would be hurt. Sub-zero rates would also risk undermining the profitability of our country’s banks.
I won’t detain readers with the technicalities but suffice it to say that when interest rates are low, it is harder for banks to make a profit – and when they are below zero, it is more difficult still.
The dire state of many banks in the eurozone and Japan is ample testament to that.
Our high street lenders neither attract nor deserve much sympathy but the last thing we need in the middle of this pandemic with firms struggling to survive is an enfeebled banking system.
Setting up incentives for even more borrowing is also deeply questionable.
The reason this country has been so hard hit economically by Covid-19 is that many firms and households went into the crisis with heavy debts and very little in the way of savings.
Pushing them to go deeper into the red is not the solution.
The even more profound concern with negative rates is that they are leading us further down the path of mind-bending measures.
We have already seen money printing on a vast scale through quantitative easing. It was introduced in the financial crisis and is being ramped up in the pandemic.
Now, having flooded the system with cheap money, there is nowhere to go but through the looking glass to a realm where the normal rules of economics are inverted.
For centuries it has been a basic principle that if you want to use someone else’s money, you should pay for the privilege.
By the same token, if you are a saver, and you are foregoing the use of your own cash for a time, then you expect to be compensated.
These are the foundations on which our banking system and modern capitalism itself have been built.
Negative interest rates threaten to undermine all of that.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
NHS faces a ‘triple whammy’ this winter, report warns
The NHS will be hit by a ‘triple whammy’ this winter, according to a report that warns the ‘road to recovery will be long’.
Health bosses say the system will be left creaking from a surge in Covid-19 patients, alongside a ‘huge’ backlog of delayed treatment, as well as ‘exhausted’ staff battling against reduced capacity due to infection control measures.
The NHS Confederation, which represents the majority of hospital trusts, ambulance services, clinical commissioning groups and other healthcare providers in the UK, warned demand has ‘outstripped’ supply and that many doctors and nurses are already ‘exhausted’ by the pressures of this year, with no respite in sight.
It called on the Government to ‘grasp the nettle’ and invest in a fully integrated health and care system.
Its survey of 252 NHS leaders revealed nine in ten felt they did not have enough funding to hit their performance targets – or even upgrade buildings, IT and other infrastructure to improve services.
They warned the pandemic has set the health service back ‘by years’ in their report – titled NHS Reset – and urged ministers to ‘lock in’ changes made in response to the crisis that cut out ‘needless bureaucracy’ and snipped red tape.
Hospital trusts were ordered to get services back to 90 per cent of capacity by mid-October, but with staff absences due to testing problems and mounting demands as a ‘double whammy’ of coronavirus and flu hits A&E departments, bosses fear the ambitious goal will not be met.
The NHS receives funding through its 2018-signed five-year plan – at £20.5billion annually – but hospital leaders warned this budget needs to be expanded to help the health services ‘play catch up’ on appointments missed due to lockdown.
Boris Johnson has pledged an extra £3billion to the NHS for winter, which has been earmarked for maintaining Nightingale hospitals and increasing testing capacity.
The NHS Confederation urged the Government to ‘grasp the nettle’ and invest in a fully integrated health and care system. (Pictured: Ward on Liverpool hospital)
One in 50 NHS patients have now been waiting a year or more for planned surgery. The number of those waiting for elective ops for more than 18 weeks is at a 12-year high, with more than two million Britons now overdue
NHS surgeons are only working at 50% capacity because of Covid-19
Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the the Royal College of Surgeons, revealed surgeons ‘didn’t have much to do’ during the lockdown, as routine operations were cancelled to make room for an expected swarm of Covid-19 patients.
But they are struggling to get back to pre-coronavirus activity levels, despite barely any infected patients being in hospital. Surgeons say infection control measures and a lack of testing have left them unable to attack the backlog.
Professor Mortensen told The Telegraph: ‘Most surgeons would say productivity is around half what it was before.’
He told the newspaper that there were obstacles in restoring services to levels seen before Covid-19, which experts say is needed to clear the backlog. Health bosses fear up to 10million patients will be left waiting for treatment by this winter.
A lack of routine testing for NHS staff is hindering efforts to create ‘Covid-free’ zones in hospitals, he said.
And doctors have previously warned social distancing in hospitals will mean fewer patients can be admitted at any given time.
The NHS Confederation says in its report many changes recently made should be locked in, including handing more control to local NHS leaders, accelerating steps to integrate health and social care, and making available sustained funding to tackle health inequalities that have been exacerbated by the virus.
It also called on political leaders to be honest and realistic with the public about waiting times and treatments in A&E departments.
One in 50 NHS patients have now been waiting a year or more for planned surgery treatments due to delays caused by coronavirus, NHS data reveals.
It shows 83,000 patients (2.1 per cent of the total) referred for routine operations still have not been treated 52 weeks later. This includes those waiting for planned, non-urgent surgery such as hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery or kidney stone removal.
The number of people waiting for operations for more than 18 weeks also hit a 12-year high, with more than two million Britons now long overdue. There are more than four million people currently waiting for elective surgery in the UK.
The NHS Confederation’s survey laid bare the fears at the top of the NHS, with 74 per cent of those surveyed saying they are not confident their services will meet the national targets to bring routine operation levels back to near-normal by October.
Just eight per cent said they felt their current funding allowed them to deliver safe and effective services.
NHS Confederation chief executive Danny Mortimer warned that the road to recovery for the NHS and social care ‘will be long’.
‘Despite dire predictions that it would not be able to cope, the NHS has not only managed a huge wave of Covid-19 patients but also continued to treat millions not infected with the virus,’ he said.
‘We have learned much and are in a better position to manage the virus than first time round, despite still not having an effective test and trace system.
‘The strain will continue to be felt across the country, but we must take this opportunity to recast services for the long-term benefit of patients and local communities.’
Lord Victor Adebowale, chairman of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Covid-19 has been the biggest disruptor in the NHS’s history. Out of necessity, it has transformed patient services in ways previously unimagined and changes that would usually take years have been delivered in weeks.
‘This is the moment for Government to grasp the nettle, be bold and invest in a health and care system not just for this winter but for the long term.
A&E waiting times have also started to dip again now that more people are coming forward for treatment. Performance times improved during lockdown because most A&E departments lay bare as people were either too spooked to come in case they caught Covid-19 or didn’t want to be a burden on the NHS
‘It must be re-imagined in a way that lets local leaders deliver services that work for everyone in their communities.
‘Above all, we need to see a radical and conscious shift in every part of the country towards tackling health inequalities. If there is one lesson from the pandemic, it is that our universal health service does not care for everyone equally.’
The survey of NHS leaders found that 84 per cent believe the NHS must deliver a step change in how it cares for diverse and marginalised communities.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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