face mask on the floor

8 in 10 NHS leaders want to continue free Covid-19 tests

The NHS Confederation are calling for the Government to take a more cautious approach to exiting the pandemic to ensure that the health care system does not become overrun once again.

This comes a week after the NHS Elective Recovery Plan was announced, revealing how it plans to tackle the waiting list of over 6 million people.

Plans to end free lateral flow tests as well as the mandatory self-isolation period for everyone with a positive test result could come as early as next month.

A poll, carried out by the NHS Confederation had over 300 responses from senior leaders in the NHS in England.

The results of the poll shoed that 79 percent of leaders strongly disagreed or disagreed with the plan to stop free Covid-19 tests for the public. A further 94 percent responded the same about NHS staff and other key workers.

Around three quarters of the health leaders who responded to the poll also said that they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the removal of the self-isolation period.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Hospital admissions and deaths linked to coronavirus continue to fall nationally and this is allowing the NHS to bring back many routine services that it was asked to deprioritise during the peaks of the pandemic, including some non-urgent elective procedures. With the success of the vaccine and new Covid treatments, this offers real hope as we learn to live with the virus.

“But the Government cannot wave a magic wand and pretend the threat has disappeared entirely. So much is uncertain still, including our long-term immunity and the emergence of future strains, which requires a solid testing infrastructure and clear guidance around self-isolation to remain in place.

“A lot is at stake for the NHS’s recovery ambitions if the Government is too gung-ho in its plans for exiting the pandemic, which is why health leaders are calling for a cautious and evidence led approach. This must not be driven by political expediency.”

Health Leaders have continued to voice the importance of continuing good communication around public health measures such as, hand washing, ventilation, and face coverings.

Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “This poll confirms what many of us have been thinking and saying since the announcement about relaxing the rules early in England was made. That is that it all feels very sudden and more driven as much by the current political pressures than by robust scientific guidance.

"We do have to learn to live safely with Covid in the medium term, that does not mean pretending the threat to our health and in some cases life simply no longer exists. We should take a more gradual, phased approach to relaxing the rules and carefully watch what happens to the rates of infection - particularly in healthcare settings or other environments where people are particularly at risk. We also need the ONS survey of cases to continue so that we have accurate data on which to base future decisions.”

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