Ruth Langsford says compulsory vaccines are 'a step too far'
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Health chiefs fear hospitals face a winter resurgence of cases after the country opens up fully. The Health Secretary said data puts England on course to meet a July 19 target for lifting Covid curbs. But he expects a rise in flu after lockdown suppressed the usual surge last year and pledged a “very significant” vaccination drive. The promise came as it was revealed that admissions to hospital with Covid have risen by a fifth to the highest for nearly two months.
There were 1,378 Covid patients on Sunday, up 21 percent in a week and the most since April 29 but well below the January 18 peak of 39,254.
Mr Hancock said that this winter “people’s natural immunity will be lower because we haven’t had any serious flu for 18 months. We are going to have a very significant flu vaccination drive this autumn…you might get your Covid booster jab and your flu jab at the same time.
“We do need to make sure we protect the NHS this coming winter. We have got time to do the preparation for that now though and make sure we are vaccinated.” Mr Hancock said the data is “looking encouraging” for fully opening up on July 19.
By yesterday there were 27 more deaths linked to Covid and 11,625 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
Another 14 care home deaths with coronavirus were registered in England and Wales in the seven days to June 11 – up one in a week.
The week-on-week change will have been affected by the bank holiday on May 31, when register offices were closed. Daily vaccination figures were not available after a technology problem that left medics using pen and paper to record jabs.
Boris Johnson told Cabinet ministers yesterday he is determined to ensure his roadmap out of lockdown is “irreversible”.
A spokesman said: “The Prime Minister re-emphasised the Government’s determination to ensure the roadmap is irreversible and said he was constantly reviewing the data on cases, hospitalisations and deaths ahead of a decision on Step Four.”
But NHS chiefs are braced for a double whammy of Covid and flu cases this winter.
They fear respiratory illnesses and further Covid surges might derail plans to deal with the huge backlog of care.
More than three quarters of health trust leaders in England are concerned about the operational pressures that their organisations will face this winter.
Some said the squeeze will depend on how much flu and Covid is circulating. Others have reported already seeing an increase in demand for urgent and emergency care.
A survey by NHS Providers found 88 percent of trust leaders said it was likely that another surge in Covid cases in this financial year will result in extra pressure.
The chief operating officer of a community trust in the South-east of England told NHS Providers: “I am worried that we will have a difficult flu season and we will have a run on the beds.
“This will destabilise the elective [planned treatments] recovery which will be very concerning given the length of time patients have already waited.” Mental health and acute trust leaders said that demand for mental health services already exceeds capacity.
Nearly half of the respondents said that staff are leaving their organisation due to early retirement, Covid burnout or other effects from working through the pandemic.
Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, called for more support including short-term funding for the most under pressure services. She added: “We know the NHS faces a perfect storm of Covid-19, flu and other respiratory illnesses as well as a growing backlog of care. We must act now.”
Ms Cordery said the survey reveals the sheer scale of the challenge facing health trusts.
“They are battling on multiple fronts as they try to recover care backlogs, deal with increased demand for emergency care and treat patients with Covid-19.
“This is difficult at the best of times but, as we saw last year, could become even more challenging during the hard winter months, particularly with the expectation that flu will return and there will be increased respiratory viruses among children.
“Trusts are committed to clearing the backlog of care that built up during the pandemic.
“We are confident vaccines are breaking the chain between infections and hospital admissions, but the reality on the frontline is that even a small increase in Covid-19 admissions or emergency care pressures could affect our ability to deliver non-Covid services.”
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