Pandemic is not over and NHS will come under intense pressure

Dr Layla McCay responds to the latest Downing Street press conference

12 July 2021

Responding to the latest Downing Street press conference, Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “The Prime Minister is right to say that this pandemic is not over.

“The pressure on our health services is already rising with healthcare leaders warning that many parts of the system, including the acute sector and primary care, are delivering services at a level we would expect in January not July. Already for some of our members, this is feeling unsustainable.

“The government itself is already warning of 100,000 COVID-19 cases a day in the coming weeks, and new numbers from SAGE predict that we could soon see 1,000 hospitalisations a day, which will mean once again that the NHS will come under intense pressure and see the health service struggling to make inroads into the huge backlog of non-COVID treatment as quickly as it would like.

“There is also a real risk that dropping the restrictions including to wear masks, especially in health care settings and to socially distance will lead to a significant COVID-19 surge which will place even more strain on a system struggling to cope. This will have a direct and immediate impact on the care the NHS can provide to patients. Messages to go slowly, cautiously and steadily are right, but they are also open to wide interpretation, which is concerning when that interpretation may be reflected in the pressure our health system will experience over the coming weeks. More clarity around expectations would be helpful.”