Responding to the latest COVID-19 mortality figures published by the ONS
, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said: “These figures clearly illustrate how grave the situation has already become, and how difficult the coming weeks and months are likely to be. Deaths have risen more than 50 per cent in a week, marking the sixth weekly rise in a row, and we need action now to try to curb this.
“From the public, that means continuing to be patient and to abide by restrictions as closely as possible to help reduce spread of the virus; and from the Government, that means, strengthening the test and trace regime, ensuring that restrictions are based on best scientific evidence and well-communicated, and also considering extending asymptomatic testing to NHS staff throughout the UK at this stage.
“Our members tell us that in many cases, their capacity is severely stretched, and this is only likely to deteriorate over time, as we see more COVID-19 patients needing hospital treatment, alongside those with the usual winter illnesses. Furthermore, if staff need to be redeployed to COVID-19 services, it will be even more difficult to restore and maintain routine services. Of course, staff are doing all they can to keep up with COVID-19-related demand while bringing back other services, but we need realism about what can be achieved, and understanding from both the Government and the public.
“At the same, we would also stress that the NHS is not, and has never been, a COVID-only service. As figures show deaths in private homes are rising, we urge people to seek treatment if they need it.”