Letter from NHS Providers to the prime minister - February 2021

On 22 February, the government will be setting out the roadmap to easing the current national lockdown. We write on behalf of all NHS acute, ambulance, community and mental health trusts in England to highlight four key evidence and data-driven tests that trust leaders believe must be passed before the government eases restrictions:


  1. Case numbers and the R number must drop to a sufficiently low level across the country so that we can be confident the virus will not immediately start re-spreading to the extent that it did last year when restrictions were relaxed.
  2. NHS capacity, particularly in intensive care, needs to have returned to levels where we can be confident that the NHS can treat all the patients it needs to.
  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 of mortality and harm it is prepared to accept as it aligns the relaxation of restrictions with the progress of the vaccination campaign.
  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.
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