Responding to the decision to move from the contain to the delay phase to tackle coronavirus, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“The time is right to move to the Delay stage – it is vital if we are to protect the NHS during what could be the greatest challenge in its history.
“Some of this is about giving us more time to prepare, more time to test procedures and do everything we can to prepare for very large number of patients who will need care and support.
“As one of our members said: ‘This will be a marathon not a sprint’. Every part of the NHS is now gearing up – for now routine work is continuing but we all expect that will be stopped in due course as the number of cases increases.
“The good news is that our understanding of the virus is growing and that should help us predict how it will behave, better protect our staff and improve frontline interventions, such as making best use of protective equipment.
“Plenty of challenges remain especially making sure we have the professional and other staff to tackle the pandemic. Again the response already from the NHS frontline has been terrific – our flexibility as a service has to be a key strength.
“And of course it is not just the NHS – the government must make sure social care services are supported as well as the critical army of family carers.
“We will want to see funds released when they are needed, as promised by the Chancellor in the Budget, and that must include social care. We are also calling on the Care Quality Commission to call an immediate temporary halt to its inspections so that staff can focus their energies on preparing to fight this unprecedented challenge.”