Government must be ready to act on restrictions if needed

31 December 2021

Commenting on the need for new restrictions to combat the spread of Omicron, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said this morning on the Today Programme:

"It is the government that sets the rules on restrictions, not the NHS. We know the government has set a high threshold on introducing extra restrictions.

"Trust leaders can see why the government is arguing that, in the absence of a surge of a large number of seriously ill older people coming into hospital, that threshold has not yet been crossed.

"But we still don't know if that surge will come. Indeed the NHS is preparing for it right now.

"We are therefore in the same place we have been for the last fortnight – the government needs to be ready to introduce tighter restrictions, at real speed, should they be needed.

"That is somewhat different to suggestions that NHS leaders think there is no need for more curbs. They may be needed, at pace, if the evidence warrants it.

"It's also worth remembering that it will take around a fortnight for any new restrictions to affect the level of hospital admissions. The pattern for hospital admissions over the next fortnight has therefore already been set."

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