NHS Providers welcomes PM's 'cautious' approach to lifting lockdown

22 February 2021

Responding to the publication of the '
COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021' Roadmap, which sets out the government's plans to exit lockdown, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"In our letter to the Prime Minister last week, we set out four evidence-based tests on infection rates, NHS capacity, the progress of the vaccination campaign and our ability to combat new variants, with a call for caution and an emphasis on data, not dates.

"Today's Roadmap shows those calls have been heeded, but it is vital the government continues to take a cautious and evidence based approach over the coming months.

"Trust leaders know how hard lockdown has been and how keen everyone is to get back to normal. And while the cautious approach outlined in today’s Roadmap won’t be fast enough for some, history has sadly taught us that rushing headfirst into lifting lockdown leads only to rapid reimposition, tragic loss of life, and avoidable patient harm.

"So it is right that the government will introduce a gap of at least five weeks ahead of every step, in which it will pause, examine the data, and assess the impact of steps taken so far before going any further.

"It is also vital that the government is open and transparent about the thresholds it will be working to at every stage.

"The Prime Minister has said that he wants these steps to be cautious but irreversible.

"So over the coming weeks and months, we will need to keep a close eye on COVID-19 case numbers. This will be vital in preventing infections surging again which would put unsustainable pressure on NHS capacity.

"Our fantastic vaccination campaign continues to go from strength to strength and the results published today by Edinburgh University and Public Health Scotland on the vaccine effect on hospitalisations are very encouraging.

"But we still have a long way to go. The government has rightly set an ambitious target for all over 50s to be vaccinated by 15 April and indeed, for all adults to be offered a vaccine by the end of July.

"Alongside this, we must have a robust and effective strategy to rapidly identify and control future outbreaks from the variant strains that now pose the greatest threat.

"If we are absolutely sure that this is the last lockdown and the changes being put in place now are 'irreversible' as the Prime Minister indicates, then a cautious approach is the right one."


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