Latest developments

COVID-19 latest developments

    • Daily COVID-19 statistics
    • Chancellor delivers “Winter Economy Plan”
    • Hopes pinned on new COVID-19 app as latest figures show test and trace not working well enough
    • NICE agrees action following Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review
    • NHS Reset workforce report launched
    • 14,199 more NHS nurses year-on-year
    • Flu jabs limited because of high demand
    • UK volunteers could be given COVID-19 to test vaccine
    • DHSC publishes guidance on the Coronavirus Act and debate to renew temporary provisions

    Daily COVID-19 statistics

    A total of 6,634 people in the UK have today tested positive for COVID-19. Forty people were today reported to have sadly within 28 days of having tested positive for the virus.

    Daily statistics on COVID-19 tests, deaths and cases are published by the government here.

    Chancellor delivers Winter Economy Plan

    The Chancellor delivered an economic update statement to the House of Commons which listed new measures the government is taking to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Key points include:

    • reaffirmed the likelihood that restrictions will be in place for the next six months
    • stated the furlough scheme was the right measure at the time, but it would be wrong to continue that scheme in the current environment
    • detailed a new Jobs Support which would allow businesses to keep people in work on shorter hours, with the government paying the remainder of their wages - employees would need to work at least a third of their hours with employers and the government paying at least two-thirds of their earnings
    • confirmed the self-employed grant would also be extended to help the self-employed and freelancers
    • announced a ‘pay as you grow’ scheme which would allow bounce back loans to be extended
    • confirmed an extension to the deadline on all the loan schemes to the end of 2020
    • announced work on a new successor loan scheme programme to begin in January 2021
    • confirmed businesses would be allowed to spread their VAT loan bill over 11 smaller payments
    • confirmed the planned increase to VAT rates for hospitality and tourism sectors would be postponed until March 31 2021.

    In addition, the Chancellor reaffirmed the support that has been provided to date for public services in responding to COVID-19. Confirming that so far the Treasury has approved £68.7 billion of additional expenditure on public services for the immediate response to COVID-19, including £24.3 billion since the Plan for Jobs in July. This includes:

    • £16.4 billion further support for health services, including:
      • a further £8.9 billion of spending to support capacity and services in the NHS
      • over £5 billion for vaccines, including domestic vaccines R&D and manufacturing
      • over £2 billion additional funding for the government’s Test, Trace, Contain and Enable programme to support the unlocking of the economy. This includes £1.5 billion for preparations for mass testing.
    • over £2 billion additional funding for local government in England, including the more than £500 million increase to support infection control in care homes
    • £60 million for enforcement and compliance, including COVID-19 marshals
    • 5.8 billion across other public services, including targeted support for essential public transport and funding for the Department of Work and Pensions, HMRC, Home Office, and Ministry of Justice to support responses to the impacts of COVID-19.

    Hopes pinned on new COVID-19 app as latest figures show test and trace not working well enough

    The latest test and trace figures show we do not have the so-called ‘world-beating’ system that was promised, and the situation actually appears to be getting worse, Dr Layla McCay of the NHS Confederation has said. There has been a marked drop in the percentage of in-person test results being returned the next day; the median distance travelled to take a test has increased; and taking into account all contacts identified, less than 75 per cent were reached and asked to self-isolate. Read her comments on the NHS Confederation website. The BBC also reported on slower turnaround times for test results.

    NICE agrees action following Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review

    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) board has said more work will be done with regulators and professional organisations to underpin NICE guidance following the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety (IMMDS) Review. The IMMDS Review, published in July, found that much of the harm suffered by patients could have been avoided if NICE guidance had been more closely followed.

    NHS Reset workforce report launched

    Today, the NHS Confederation published its report on the implications of the pandemic on the NHS workforce. Part of the NHS Reset campaign, it sets out what members have told us is needed to attract, recruit, train, develop, deploy and support staff through these difficult times. It draws on member feedback to identify best practice and sets out what government and arm's-length bodies can do to support organisations sustain the wellbeing support in place for staff. The report also highlights the profound leadership challenge of inequalities and the discrimination faced in every NHS workplace by staff from BME backgrounds.

    14,199 more NHS nurses year-on-year

    DHSC has reported that the number of nurses in the NHS in England increased by 14,199 compared with last year, and the number of doctors has risen by 9,283, according to the latest NHS workforce figures, which cover the period until the end of June. All professionally qualified clinical staff, paramedics and support to clinical staff are now at record levels, according to DHSC. Alongside this, the latest UCAS figures show the number of people accepting a place to study nursing in England is up 23 per cent year-on-year, or 5,000 more student nurses. However, the most recent vacancy figures, published in August, showed 83,591 vacancies across the NHS for the quarter ending 30 June 2020, including 37,821 nursing vacancies and 8,278 medical vacancies.

    Flu jabs limited because of high demand 

    Pharmacists and GP surgeries are having to limit flu jabs to the most at-risk groups because of increased demand, the BBC reports. Pharmacy chain Boots has suspended its appointment booking system for anyone outside of the vulnerable groups, which include people aged over 65, it adds.

    UK volunteers could be given COVID-19 to test vaccine

    The BBC reports that The UK could be the first country in the world to carry out COVID-19 “challenge trials” – where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with the virus to test possible vaccines. It is understood the studies, first reported by the Financial Times, would be carried out in London.  

    DHSC publishes guidance on the Coronavirus Act and debate to renew temporary provisions

    The Department of Health and Social Care has today published analysis of the Coronavirus Act and how it’s enabled action in a number of areas including the health and social care workforce. This comes ahead of a debate on COVID-19 on 28 September and a vote to renew the provisions of the Act on 30 September which the government is expected to win. The analysis suggests the Act has enable action in five key areas:

    • Increasing the available health and social care workforce – for example, by removing barriers to allow suitably experienced people, such as recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work (and in Scotland, in addition to retired people, allowing those who are on a career break or who are social worker students to become temporary social workers).
    • Easing and reacting to the burden on frontline staff – by reducing the number of administrative tasks they have to perform, enabling local authorities to prioritise care for people with the most pressing needs, allowing key workers to perform more tasks remotely and with less paperwork, and introducing a power to suspend individual port operations if necessary for the security of the border.
    • Containing and slowing the virus – to manage the spread of coronavirus, the Coronavirus Act 2020 ("the act") provides public health officers (PHO) with powers to control the spread of coronavirus in the UK.
    • Managing the deceased with respect and dignity – by enabling the death management system to deal with increased demand for its services.
    • Supporting people – by allowing individuals to receive Statutory Sick Pay from day one, and supporting businesses, for example by providing powers that will ensure the governments of the UK are able to support the food industry to maintain supplies.

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