Covid still having a huge impact on NHS services

Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, Darren Hughes, commented on the state of the NHS in light of the latest Welsh Government Covid update.

11 February 2022

Responding to today’s Welsh Government press conference on the gradual easing of Coronavirus protections, Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:

“It’s encouraging to see reported Covid cases stabilising further and a reduction, if not stabilisation, of Covid patients in critical care.

“NHS leaders are concerned that public expectation will be for services to “return to normal” as we “learn to live with Covid”. While there is cause to be optimistic, things remain serious in health and care services and, if anything, demand on the NHS continues to grow over time.

“Numbers of patients in hospital with Covid remain over 1,000 and even if many of these patients aren’t primarily being treated for Covid, we cannot overstate the impact Covid has on the delivery of health and care services.

“While Covid remains with us, even if numbers remain stable, its very existence means the way the NHS delivers its services remains restricted. Staff sickness and absence levels, other winter pressures and stringent infection and prevention control measures (such as extra hygiene practices and cleaning, social distancing, PPE requirements etc) all greatly reduce capacity to treat those in need. This doesn’t just impact hospitals but also the emergency services, GPs, community services, pharmacies and social care.

“While NHS leaders are doing everything they can, many elective care waiting lists continue to grow and we need to be honest with the public that this can’t be cleared overnight. More is being done to care for those on waiting lists and exhausted staff are doing everything they can to treat as many people as quickly and safely as possible. We can’t thank them enough.”