FILE PHOTO: People visiting the NHS Covid vaccination centre in Wembley, London, United Kingdom on January 21 2021. Photo: iStock

The National Health Service (NHS) is close to the edge of being overwhelmed in many parts of Britain and pressure is only going to increase as winter approaches, the head of a healthcare system body said today (October 20).

“I talk to health leaders every day, and I have literally not spoken to any leader who doesn’t say that their service is under intense pressure now. This is the middle of October. Things are only going to get worse,” Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation told BBC Radio, calling for Covid-19 measures such as mask-wearing and working from home.

“The health service is right at the edge… if you push much further we will not be able to provide the level of service that people need to have.”

Taylor has been one of the health leaders asking the government to enact a proper plan to avoid ‘stumbling into winter crisis’.

On Tuesday (October 19) he said: “It is time for the government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without preemptive action, we risk stumbling into a winter crisis. Also, health leaders need to understand what a ‘Plan C’ would entail if these measures are insufficient.

“The government should not wait for Covid infections to rocket and for NHS pressures to be sky high before the panic alarm is sounded.

“Additional investment has been given to the NHS to support its recovery and leaders are committed to putting that to best use as rightly, the public expects a return on its investment but if the government fails to get a grip on the rising cases of coronavirus and other illness, this could be put at risk.”

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK have exceeded 40,000 for the last seven days, with 43,738 recorded on Tuesday and 49,156 the day before. The last time cases were in this bracket was in mid-July.

Similarly, hospitals have seen a 10 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases in the last week, with 7,749 people reported at the last count. Deaths are averaging around 120 a day but today there were 223 deaths within 28 days of a confirmed positive diagnosis.

Vaccinations have played a significant role in keeping these numbers lower than they could have been and were in previous waves of the pandemic, with the NHS currently supporting booster shots and flu vaccinations to more patients than ever, as well as supporting Covid-19 jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds. Over 83 million jabs have been given in England so far.

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