Spotlight on...easing lockdown restrictions
With the UK currently in lockdown, the government and parliament have difficult decisions to make in determining the next steps to manage the pandemic. As the government creates a roadmap to ease restrictions on social contact, NHS trust leaders in England continue to argue for a cautious and measured approach, as they have done throughout the pandemic.
NHS trust leaders therefore believe it is vital that the government approach to easing lockdown restrictions is driven by data and evidence rather than arbitrary dates. They believe there are four key, evidence and data driven, tests that must be passed before the government eases restrictions:
- Test 1: Case numbers and the virus reproduction rate (the R rate) must drop to a sufficiently low level that we can be confident the virus will not immediately start re-spreading to the extent that it did last year when restrictions were lifted.
- Test 2: NHS capacity needs to have returned to levels where we can be confident that the NHS can treat all the patients it needs to
- Test 3: The vaccination campaign needs to be sufficiently advanced to provide adequate levels of protection before restrictions are relaxed. The government needs to be clear on what level of risk pf mortality and harm it is prepared to accept as it aligns the relaxation of restrictions with the progress of the vaccination campaign.
- Test 4. We need to be certain that there is a robust and effective strategy to identify and control future outbreaks from the variant strains that now pose the greatest threat from COVID-19.