Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned on Friday that the UK has reached a “perilous moment” in the pandemic and said he is “very worried” over a surge in local cases.
Hospital admissions have spike in parts of England which is becoming “very serious” as hospitals are nearing maximum capacity and face being “overwhelmed.”
He said the government’s strategy is simple, to “suppress the virus, supporting the economy, education and the NHS, until a vaccine can make us safe.”
This comes after Public Health England (PHE) said that are “very concerned” over a rise in hospital admissions, and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned there will be a “devastating consequences.”
In his conference speech to health leaders the Health Secretary warned, “We are at a perilous moment in the course of this pandemic.
“I am very worried about the growth in the number of cases, especially in the North West and the North East of England, parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and parts of Yorkshire.
“In parts of the country the situation is again becoming very serious.
“Hospitalisations in the North West are doubling approximately every fortnight.
“They have risen by 57% in just the last week alone.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing hospitalisations in the over-60s rising sharply and the number of deaths from coronavirus also rising.”
He added: “We know from bitter experience that the more coronavirus spreads, the harder it is to do all the other vital work of the NHS too.”
“The message to the public must be that we all have a part to play to control this virus.
“Our strategy is simple, suppress the virus, supporting the economy, education and the NHS until a vaccine can make us safe.”
“If we do not come together and take effective precautions, Covid will continue its explosion across the country; a devastating consequence of which could be the implosion of our NHS this winter.
“While performance is not near its worst, we are seeing extremely worrying signs as we head into winter. Our Emergency Departments must be safe places for our most vulnerable patients, and we cannot go back to the status quo of crowded departments and long waits.
“However, the data shows that we are gradually returning to this, which will put lives at risk. In Quarter 1 of 2020/21 there were 118,451 beds in the NHS in England. On 1 October 96% of these beds were occupied.”
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said, “As we head into winter with Covid-19 cases rising, trust leaders are really worried about the impact of staff burnout.
“So, it was good to hear Matt Hancock emphasise the importance of investing in staff health and wellbeing.
“We welcome the new research project to understand and address the impact of the pandemic on NHS staff.
“It is absolutely right that this will place a particular focus on how it has affected Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues.”