On Monday evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged England into a third national lockdown, and he said that hospitals are 40% more busier than that of the first peak in April 2020.
The British Medical Association (BMA) have welcomed the lockdown as it warned that hospitals are “stretched to breaking point,” whilst some doctors are comparing working conditions to that of a “warzone.”
Johnson said in his televised address to the nation, “Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.
“In England alone, the number of Covid patients has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000.
“That number is 40% higher than the first peak in April.”
The Prime Minister said that around 80,000 people had been tested positive for the virus on 29 December, with deaths up by 20% over the last week, which will “sadly rise further.”
In a joint statement from the UK’s four chief medical officers, they have risen the virus alert level to five, which simply means, “transmission is high or rising exponentially.”
This also means that there “is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed,” this aert level has never been issued before.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair said, “It’s clear that we need a major intervention to bring down the spread of this virus, especially the new more aggressive variant, given that the NHS in on the brink – currently facing exponential demand for care beyond what can be supplied in many places.
“Hospitals are stretched to breaking point, with doctors reporting unbearable workloads as they take on more Covid-19 admissions alongside the growing backlog of people who need other, non-Covid care.
“Doctors are desperate, with some even comparing their working environment to a warzone as wards overflow, waiting lists grow, and ambulances queue outside hospitals because there are now so many people with Covid-19.
“As a result, the NHS is currently facing a perfect storm of immense workload and staff burnout and more cases expected as we see the impact of Christmas on infection rates.
“The vaccination of healthcare workers needs to be significantly sped up so that health and care staff across the country are prioritised to receive both the first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to help keep them free of the virus, so they can continue to provide the care so vitally needed by so many.”
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said patients were being admitted to hospital at an “alarming rate.”
“The announcement this evening is the only option to save lives, reduce patient harm and ensure the NHS can safely provide all patients with the care they need,” he said.
“Trust leaders are well aware that there is a cost and an impact of tighter restrictions, but they need these measures in place to stem the rapidly rising rate of infections, hospital admissions and deaths.
“Today has seen another steep rise in the number of Covid cases and the number of patients being admitted to hospital is also rising at an alarming rate.
“There are almost 9,000 more Covid patients in hospital beds – the equivalent of nearly 18 hospitals – than there was on Christmas Day, just 10 days ago. We know that number is going to continue to rise over the next few weeks.
“The lockdown announcement will help, but only if everyone follows the rules.
“As the prime minister indicated, the roll out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does mean there is an end in sight and the NHS is working tirelessly to deliver the largest ever vaccination programme in history.
“But, for now, the NHS needs the public to play its part and stay at home.”