Medical professionals in discussion on a ward

NHS leader: National lockdown will help health service

As the Prime Minister announced national four-week lockdown to begin from November 4, 2020, the NHS’ Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, has backed the measures, saying they’re vital in reversing the current rising trend of Covid-19 infections among the community.

Professor Powis pointed to the growing infection rate around the country, explaining how there is typically a two-week lag before those rising cases result in additional hospital measures – and, as a result, put further strain on the health service, already dealing with normal winter pressures.

He said: “Daily hospital Covid-19 admissions are now higher than on 23 March when the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown.

“NHS doctors and nurses in many areas of England – including Liverpool, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire – are now treating more Covid-19 patients than at the peak of the first wave.

“It takes around a fortnight for today’s infections in the community to result in hospital Covid admissions – so what happens over the next two weeks is partly baked in.

“But the measures announced [by Boris Johnson] will help reduce the number of admissions beyond that, preventing more people contracting this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease for which there is currently no cure or vaccine.

“Across Europe governments are also reporting the increase in demand on their health service as the pandemic’s second wave bites.

Professor Powis pointed to growing infection rates across fellow European countries too, with a number introducing similar lockdown measures to reduce the growing rates within the community and protect and carefully balance the strain on their respective health services.

“In Spain, France, Italy and Germany health services are seeing peaks in infection similar or greater to that at the start of the pandemic.

“Throughout the first wave, care was available to everyone who needed it and the NHS continued to treat thousands of people with and without Covid-19.

“Doctors, nurses and all NHS staff are determined to do the same throughout this second wave.”

The four-week lockdown outlined by the Prime Minister, which is to be voted on in Parliament ahead of being introduced, would see hospitality venues, gyms and non-essential shops close, with people urged to work from home wherever possible.

Unlike the first lockdown measures back in spring, education settings would remain open.

But, as Professor Powis also pointed to, there was reason to be more hopefully now as the NHS had a better arsenal of tools to tackle the virus.

“The NHS has learned a lot since the start of the pandemic and has used the summer to prepare further while also restarting services that were disrupted by the first Covid wave.

“We have new life-saving Covid treatments such as dexamethasone, trialled and tested here in the NHS.

“We better understand the type of oxygen therapies patients need and the best ways in which to care for them to aid recovery.

“The 14-day survival rates in intensive care have improved from 72% to 85% since the pandemic began.

“Capital investment is helping hospitals boost their A&E capacity and treat patients safely by separating Covid and non-Covid general and critical care beds.

“We also announced that three of the Nightingales in the North of England are ready to mobilize with Manchester taking its first patients this week.”

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