Commenting on the latest ONS mortality figures, Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “As these figures show deaths from COVID-19 continue to decline, we can be reassured of the continuing success of the vaccination programme, alongside a continued cautious approach, and public adherence to the restrictions.
“However, on this day of reflection as one year passes since the first national lockdown, we must remember the enormous human cost of this crisis, with 146,000 people who have sadly lost their lives, and so many others deeply affected. It has been a year like no other, with many difficult lessons learned.
“Yet while there is some cause for optimism, we must also acknowledge that we still face restrictions and will do for some time to come. The NHS is still under real pressure, with a mammoth and ever-growing backlog of treatment, as well the challenge of supporting the many people who are still being affected by COVID-19, those who have longer-term symptoms, and those with associated mental health needs.
“The Prime Minister has warned that the renewed wave of COVID infections in Europe is more than likely to affect the UK, and that there is a real need to avoid complacency, and maintain social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene. Our NHS teams, especially in primary care, have been working flat out to deliver the vaccination programme, but any delays in supplies could slow down the ability to protect every adult in the UK. We urge the Government to take stock, keep learning the hard lessons, and offer the support the health service needs.”