We are not yet out of the woods with COVID-19

24 March 2021

Responding to the prime minister's appearance in front of the Liaison Committee, and ahead of a vote on the Coronavirus Act tomorrow, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"Trust leaders will welcome the prime minister's ongoing commitment to data, not dates in his evidence session today.

"We have made significant progress in tackling COVID-19. The vaccination programme has been hugely successful so far. But we are not yet out of the woods.

"There are still over 4,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 and 650 patients in hospital requiring mechanical ventilation due to the virus. Europe is seeing a third wave, with many countries going back into national lockdowns.

"We must learn from past mistakes. New variants pose significant threats to the success of the vaccination programme so we must go slowly if we are to retain recent gains and prevent tragic loss of life. Rather than rushing to ease lockdown restrictions, we would urge MPs to vote for a renewal of the restrictions outlined in the Coronavirus Act when they vote on this legislation tomorrow.

"We were also encouraged to see the prime minister acknowledge once again that a long term plan is needed for social care. As a member of the health for care coalition, led by the NHS Confederation, we have repeatedly called for a plan to place social care on a sustainable footing.

"The pandemic has shone a light on how underfunded the sector has been for too long. This impacts on the health service, as the NHS relies on a stable care system to help people remain well and independent.

"The government has committed to publishing proposals later this year. It is essential there is no shift from this timetable, and no retreat from this vital priority, ducked by successive governments."