UK health bosses accuse the government of abandoning interest in Covid

Health leaders have called on the UK Government to ‘overhaul’ its plan for living with Covid in England and accused Number 10 of abandoning ‘any interest’ in managing the disease.

The strongly-worded intervention from the NHS Confederation, which represents organizations from across the health sector, comes as clinicians fight to clear them against a backdrop of more than 6 million waiting lists record numbers of coronavirus infections.

The panel proposed targets for reducing latency, which were placed ahead of the latest Omicron variant risemay no longer be available this year.

An estimated one in 13 people in England had coronavirus in the week ending April 2, the highest level ever recorded during the pandemic, according to Office for National Statistics data released on Friday.

However, there are early signs that the wave is ebbing, as the ONS registered a slight drop in the number of infections in early April.

Similarly, the wave of Covid hospitalizations appears to be nearing its peak. According to NHS data, 14,547 coronavirus-related hospitalizations were recorded in the week ending April 6, down 1 per cent from the previous week.

Nearly three-fifths of patients with the virus in English hospitals are being treated mainly for another medical issue, while Covid-related absences among NHS staff have remained flat over the past two weeks.

But the strain on the NHS was writ large last week when around 20 accident and emergency departments in England issued diversions, meaning patients had to be taken elsewhere.

The federal government pointed out that bed occupancy was extremely high and that employee absenteeism was well above the seasonal average. Matthew Taylor, chief executive, said: “The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter.”

But instead of the understanding and support that NHS workers had received in 2020 and 2021, “we have a government that appears to be absolving itself of responsibility for what is going on in local services across the country, which wash your hands,” he added.

Number 10 “has seemingly given up all interest in Covid,” Taylor said. The Treasury had “taken bites out of the already very tight NHS budget” while rising inflation meant the NHS agreement was now worthless.

“It is now unclear that anyone in the middle of government believes that the unfolding NHS crisis is their responsibility,” he added.

The federal government is asking the government to send stronger messages to the public on precaution. It also requires realism about what the NHS can achieve in the face of very high Covid levels, rising demand for emergency and emergency care and backlog pressures, Taylor said.

The association said the government should also reconsider its requirement for the NHS to cover the cost of lateral flow testing until infection rates and admissions have fallen significantly, “or be open to the public that some performance targets in relation to the Elective care cannot be achieved”. .

The Department for Health and Social Care said: “The success of our vaccination and antiviral programmes, along with increased public understanding of risk management, means we can live with Covid – with public health guidance and free testing focused on groups who are most at risk are virus. UK health bosses accuse the government of abandoning interest in Covid

Adam Bradshaw

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