Safety first while danger remains

Niall Dickson

Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech outlining the roadmap for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:

“The words were eloquent, inspiring and reassuring, but let’s study the detail before jumping to conclusions.

"This is certainly not the moment to throw away the gains made in controlling the virus. Everyone is desperate to return to some kind of normality, but the NHS is still treating thousands of patients with COVID-19 and there is a tragedy unfolding in care homes. We have not yet cracked the PPE challenge nor access to testing, and we are not ready to roll out the test, track, trace strategy.

"As the Prime Minister made clear, these issues must be addressed before we significantly relax the lockdown.

"The sliding alert scale looks sensible, enabling controls to be ramped up as well as relaxed. For those of us concerned about the NHS, protecting the health of the nation, and making sure the health and care services can cope, are the paramount issues.

"The slight complicating factor is that as well as protecting the NHS, we need people to use it. The service is there for them if they need it. It is a real worry that so many appear reluctant to seek treatment for non-Covid conditions, and we must send out the signal that the NHS is open for business."

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