The NHS is contemplating plans to discharge sufferers into motels as hospitals develop into swamped with COVID sufferers, Well being Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed – as he stated it was “not possible to know” how lengthy lockdown restrictions would possibly final.
Mr Hancock informed Sky Information that the federal government would “take a look at all choices” to alleviate pressures on the NHS, with greater than 35,000 coronavirus sufferers at present in hospitals throughout the UK.
“There are enormous pressures on the NHS and, as you’d anticipate, we’re seeking to all totally different ways in which we are able to relieve these pressures,” he stated.
The well being secretary stated the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London had begun taking sufferers as “back-up”, however that ministers had various plans “in case there’s extra that is wanted”.
Requested about experiences 1000’s of NHS sufferers may very well be discharged early from hospitals to motels or their very own properties to release beds, Mr Hancock stated: “We would ony ever do this if it was clinically the precise factor for anyone.
“However in some instances, individuals want step-down care, they do not truly have to be in a hospital mattress.
“We work very carefully with the social care sector to ensure that capability is offered. However we take a look at all choices.
“So this is not a concrete proposal by any means, however it’s one thing we take a look at, as a result of we take a look at all contingencies.”
Some Conservative MPs are placing stress on ministers to start easing England’s third nationwide lockdown from eight March.
However the well being secretary stated it was “not possible to know” how lengthy the restrictions might need to be in place for.
“We’ll maintain the restrictions in place not a second longer than they’re vital, however we are going to maintain them in place so long as they’re vital,” Mr Hancock stated.
The federal government is aiming to supply 15 million of essentially the most weak individuals a primary dose of a COVID vaccine by 15 February, with the well being secretary saying the vaccination programme is “on monitor” to satisfy that deadline.
“The measures that we have in place, that we hope to have the ability to elevate, that we must always have the ability to elevate once we’ve been capable of defend by vaccination those that are weak,” Mr Hancock stated.
However he added that “proper now, the vaccine isn’t but ready to do this”.
Mark Harper, the chair of the COVID Restoration Group of Conservative backbenchers, has instructed that from eight March – giving three weeks for these 15 million of essentially the most weak to develop vital immunity to coronavirus – the federal government ought to start to elevate “extreme” restrictions.
However, requested about that timescale being proposed by Tory MPs, Mr Hancock replied: “Nicely, nice. However I am the well being secretary.”
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the federal government’s advisory Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, informed Sky Information that COVID measures will likely be wanted “for some time but”.
“We should be very clear that vaccination will forestall illness in people however it might not forestall these people from transmission to others,” he stated.
“So, regardless that you’ve got been vaccinated, you won’t be fully protected your self, you might be in danger of transmitting to others, so I feel we must use further precautions by way of social distancing, sporting masks, for some time but.”
He added: “There’s mild on the finish of the tunnel and definitely by the start of March we must always see a pointy drop off in hospitalisations and deaths.”