Responding to the announcement that the UK chief medical officers have agreed that the COVID-19 alert level would move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“While it is a good sign that the chief medical officers feel the risk of the NHS being unable to cope has decreased, we are relieved to see they have emphasised that health services are still under a huge amount of pressure.
“We have a workforce that is overstretched and exhausted, working to look after more than 16,000 patients in hospital with COVID-19, alongside patients in our communities with long-term illness as result of the virus, a major backlog of treatment, and delivering the vaccination programme. We must stay the course. It’s beholden on all of us to make sure the threat to the NHS continues to recede.
“For its part, the Government must continue to be cautious, with a focus on the data, and be prepared to revise the dates for each stage of easing lockdown if NHS pressures worsen, to make sure NHS leaders can recover services that have been disrupted.
“The NHS is seeing growing longer-term pressure across primary care, community and mental health services, as well as in hospital and ambulance providers. The Government must take further steps to support the NHS in the budget, and must offer clarity on when it will complete its much-needed plan for social care.”