Trust leaders welcome plans to keep COVID measures under review as busy winter looms for the NHS
14 September 2021
Responding to a statement in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, on the government's plan for managing COVID-19 over autumn and winter, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
"With most COVID-19 restrictions in England now lifted, and the vaccination programme so well advanced, many of us have welcomed a return to some sense of ‘normality’ in our daily lives. But the fact remains that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.
"The situation in the NHS is far from ‘normal’ and we expect this autumn and winter to be busier than ever for the health service.
"That's why, alongside the ongoing vaccination and testing and tracing programmes, trust leaders will broadly welcome the government’s plan to keep a wider range COVID-19 measures under close review. A pragmatic approach towards measures such as mask mandates and increased public caution is vital if cases spike in the coming months, putting the NHS under unsustainable pressure.
"The array of challenges facing the NHS as we head into autumn and winter is daunting.
"Trusts are grappling with record waiting lists across hospital, mental health and community services. Bed capacity is lower because of continuing enhanced infection control measures. Staffing levels and burnout continue to be a critical concern for many trusts.
"Demand for urgent and emergency care is up above pre-pandemic levels, with unprecedented pressures on ambulance services and more people severely ill requiring complex care. And that’s before the usual winter pressures kick in, which could be made even more challenging with rising levels of flu, RSV and COVID-19.
"Alongside these pressures, trusts will now need to factor in the rapid rollout of jabs for 12-15 year olds and booster jabs- including for their own staff- into their plans. Working with colleagues in primary care, trusts will be ready to deliver on these new recommendations, as they have been throughout the vaccination programme but they must be given the support they need to do this.
"That's why the extra funding for the NHS for the rest of this financial year, which will be critical in helping the health service deal with these pressures, is so welcome. Similarly, additional funding for health and care over the next three years will go some way towards meeting these challenges in the longer term.