AS Covid cases surge the chief of the NHS has warned “we won’t be able to do everything”.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said there is a significant risk to hospitals and services as lockdown lifts.
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He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We need to be realistic and we need to be open and honest about the fact that there are risks if we relax these restrictions and there will be consequences.
“The NHS won’t be able to do everything given the demand pressures it has got and the fact that we have got reduced capacity in terms of both beds and staff numbers.”
He said there would be “very significant” pressure on the NHS and “we will have to dial back on elective recovery”.
The boss added: “Sajid Javid (the Health Secretary) was saying on Monday it is a reasonable expectation that we could hit 100,000 infections a day, and that basically will mean more staff having to self-isolate and it will mean more beds being taken out for Covid-19 patients.”
It comes as the NHS revealed how huge the backlog of care caused by the pandemic is.
Numbers are high, as doctors and medical staff face a mountain of missed and delayed appointments due to Covid restrictions last year.
A total of 5.3 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of May 2021, according to figures from NHS England.
This is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
‘THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES’
Ministers have focused on hospital admissions being relatively low in comparison to the rising cases, but it’s starting to become a worry for NHS bosses – as staff could be hit with a wave of cases.
A study published today has warned Covid infections could hit 120,000-a-day by Freedom Day as cases quickly quadruple.
The Delta variant still has a grip on the UK, with cases rising fast as people mingle more.
The study showed 0.35 per cent of double-jabbed under-65s are testing positive compared to 1.15 per cent of those without a vaccine – showing 70 per cent protection.
With daily cases at around 29,000 currently, if it takes just under a week to double we will see around 120,000 daily cases by the day restrictions are lifted.
Around one in 170 people are testing positive for the virus now, they found.
But Imperial College London’s Professor Paul Elliott said: “We see in our own data the effectiveness of the vaccine and we certainly see it in the older population.
“We see much lower hospitalisation rates now than we saw in the second wave.”
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But Prof Steven Riley added: “Even though the vaccine is effective, it’s a fantastic vaccine but it’s not a perfect vaccines, the proportion of people from round 12 to 13 that are vaccinated that are testing positive is increasing.
“We are not seeing the absence of infection in the vaccinated group, we are seeing growth.”
The experts said the rise is due to Delta being more infectious and playing more of a role alongside social mixing.