Responding to today's Downing Street briefing and the publication of the COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The launch of the seven regional vaccination centres and the welcome news that 2.6 million jabs were administered prior to their opening are a vital shot in the arm to bring this pandemic under control in future but they won’t help the NHS deal with today’s challenges, which are off the chart. The NHS is on its knees with the quality of patient care and the ability of teams across the NHS to provide their full complement of services being severely compromised due to the spread of the disease.
“This is the biggest vaccination campaign ever undertaken by the NHS but it is being delivered while it faces its greatest challenge. We are in a very real race between the vaccine and the virus and worryingly, it has been the virus breaking grim records day in, day out over the past week despite everything the NHS is doing. Last week, we saw a major incident declared in London with bed occupancy above 92% in the majority of its trusts, and across the whole of England, every region has passed the peaks in hospital admissions that they saw in the spring.
“Despite the threat of transmissibility from the new mutation being much greater than the strain faced in the first wave, it is becoming increasingly clear that the national lockdown restrictions in place now and the public’s adherence towards them are weaker they were in the spring. The NHS can ill afford for a lockdown in name only and during the next few weeks, everyone has the potential to be a life saver or taker depending on their actions.”