The British Medical Association today (7 July) responded to UK ‘unlockdown’ plans – labelling the suspension of all protective measures as “incoherent”
The UK Government plans to relax all social distancing laws and measures on 19 July, which has led to a mixed response from healthcare organisations. Currently, UK infection levels are rising faster than they did in 2020.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid supports the push to continue with the planned date for “freedom day” – but says that the Government expects there to be 100,000 new COVID cases diagnosed daily.
The BMA response came from council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who describes the measures as “incoherent” and highlights that the NHS is already “under immense pressure” from the existing level of cases.
‘Clear disconnect’ between science and policy, says Dr Nagpaul
Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “To listen to the Chief Medical Officer speak about the alarming rise in cases, doubling of hospitalisations and certainty of more deaths, and for the PM to decide to go full steam ahead with the easing of all mitigations regardless, is incredibly concerning. There is a clear disconnect with the actions the Government are planning to take and the data and views of the scientific community and medical profession.
“The NHS is already under immense pressure trying to cope with an unprecedented backlog of care. While admittedly the link between hospitalisations and deaths has weakened, it has not been broken and we now have twice as many people in hospital and on ventilators compared to a month ago. Even modest rises in patients being admitted to hospital will undermine our ability to treat the record 5 million patients waiting for treatment.”
According to an ongoing study by Imperial College London, women are at a higher likelihood of catching long COVID – which can last for months, harming individual quality of life and ability to work.
‘One in ten people’ will have long COVID
Dr Nagpaul, reflecting on the economic angle embraced by the current Government, further commented: “Additionally, approximately one in ten people who contract the virus will have symptoms of long covid and with an estimated 2 million people having been ill for more than 12 weeks. This is having a frightening long-term impact on health and wellbeing, wrecking the lives of many. Why is the Prime Minister knowingly putting more people at risk of becoming ill when masks are proven to be effective and can reduce the spread of infection?
“It will also impact the economy and businesses if more staff become ill and unable to work.
“Ultimately, the Government has a duty to protect people’s health and this announcement today falls very short of that. It also fails to protect our health service and give the NHS and its staff the safeguards it needs.”