NHS leaders and doctors warn Boris Johnson not to lift lockdown on 21 June

·2 min read
NHS leaders say lifting lockdown should be delayed (PA)
NHS leaders say lifting lockdown should be delayed (PA)

A majority of NHS leaders have said they think lockdown restrictions should remain in place beyond 21 June.

A survey of health and care organisations by the NHS Confederation had 282 responses from leaders working across primary care, hospitals and community with 63 per cent saying they did not think restrictions should be lifted.

The vast majority of responses were from primary care leaders working in GP networks around the country with 105 out of 166 coming out against lockdown. The 19 hospital leaders who responded appeared almost equally split with 42 per cent in favour of lifting lockdown and 47 per cent against.

It comes as new data from Public Health England showed the number of Delta variant cases of coronavirus had trebled in a week and separately the Office for National Statistics showed infections rising across the country.

Ministers will confirm on Monday whether it will proceed with lifting the final set of lockdown restrictions in England, which would see all legal limits on social contact removed.

The British Medical Association has come out against the lifting of lockdown, saying a better understanding of the rising number of cases is needed and the situation should be reviewed every two weeks based on data.

Infections have now reached levels last seen in February with a 60 per cent increase in cases over the past week and hospital admissions also rising – albeit slower than in previous waves of the virus thanks to the vaccine programme.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “There is a lot at stake, both for the NHS and our wider society so our message to the prime minister is simple – if there is any doubt about lifting the final restrictions on 21 June, don’t do it yet as the impact could be devastating. It would be better to take action now than regret the consequences.

“We are far from the brutal peak of the pandemic that we were in at the start of the year thanks to the national lockdown, our infection control processes, and the success of our vaccination programme. But the situation is changing day by day, which is why a data-driven approach is so important.”

As part of the poll carried out by the NHS Confederation, which represents more than 500 health and care organisations, some respondents said: “We are now feeling the real pressure of the pandemic with exhausted staff and increased patient demand.”

Another added: “Let's be certain that we have the Delta variant under control.”

Public Health England has warned the Delta variant is able to evade the vaccine effect after just one dose in 70 per cent of cases with a double dose being needed for most people.

So far only 28.6 million people have had their second dose meaning 45 per cent of the adult population is not fully protected.

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