NHS Providers response to lockdown restrictions easing on 19 July

12 July 2021

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms the plan to lift almost all lockdown restrictions in England on 19 July.
  • Ahead of a news conference, he urged people to be cautious.
  • He warned COVID-19 cases, currently at about 30,000 a day, would continue to rise as society reopened.

Ahead of today's confirmation by prime minister Boris Johnson that most lockdown restrictions will be eased on 19 July, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"NHS trust leaders understand the range of factors that need to be balanced when making the decision to ease from 19 July onwards, and the logic for doing it now rather than during the winter.

But they are also clear that it's important ministers recognise the impact on the NHS of today’s decisions. If COVID-19 infection rates rise, as we would expect them to, given the relaxation of restrictions, the pressure on the NHS will increase.

The NHS will need to treat increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital at a time when the service is going full pelt to recover backlogs, is seeing record emergency care demand for this time of year, is losing significant numbers of staff to self-isolation and has much reduced capacity due to infection control.

This will inevitably mean the NHS will be unable to recover care backlogs as fast as trusts, and patients, would like and ministers should be clear about this trade off. In this context, predictions of at least 1,000 COVID-19 admissions a day from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies are concerning.

We also need to be aware of the other risks here – that the vaccines do not offer 100% protection and that there are still significant numbers of people who haven't had their double jab and two-week protection build up. Trust leaders are also concerned about the impact of long COVID, not least because there is so much we do not yet understand about the extent and severity of its impact."