TORY PM Johnson was joined by head of NHS England Simon Stevens at a joint press conference yesterday afternoon in which they reported 492 deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours alone.
Stevens warned: ‘We have 11,000 coronavirus patients in hospital at the moment, that is the equivalent of 22 of our hospitals full of coronavirus patients. On a normal day during the winter season, even at the peak of the winter flu crisis, we can expect 3,000 patients, so this is a very real picture that is happening now, not a projection, but a crisis happening now.
‘Knowing that I was speaking today, I asked my colleagues, nurses, NHS staff, intensive care doctors, paramedics, what message they would like to relay and it boils down to three points:
‘First, this second wave of the coronavirus is real and it is serious. Second, that the NHS has been working really hard to prepare. Thirdly, our ability to do this is dependent on how fast this virus grows. Left unchecked, the NHS will not be able to cope.’
Tory PM Johnson said: ‘We have put in place an unprecedented package of support to protect the lives and the livelihoods of millions of people.
‘As you know we have protected 10 million jobs through Furlough and, as the Chancellor announced earlier in the day, we are extending the scheme through to March.
‘Today we are announcing a further 15 million for councils to offer safe accommodation for those who are sleeping rough or need temporary accommodation.’
He reiterated that ‘we are asking people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’
‘I know how tough this is for NHS staff and care home workers facing a tough winter on the front line,’ he said.
‘These rules will expire on December 2nd. When these rules expire, we will move back to the tiered system.’
Meanwhile, the NHS has moved to alert level 4. When this happens, the overarching body NHS England takes over the overall coordination of the health service’s response to the pandemic.
The escalation comes as the health service reported that the number of inpatients seriously ill with coronavirus has rocketed from 2,000 at the end of September to almost 11,000.
This figure is over half of the 19,000 that were hospitalised at the April peak, according to NHS England medical director Prof Stephen Powis.
BMA consultants committee chair Dr Rob Harwood said: ‘Failure to address shortages of beds and staff over time means the NHS is in now a poor position going into the winter, and we can expect to see further serious disruption to routine care, increasing the already very large backlog that has built up since the pandemic began.
‘The impact of this will be incredibly destructive, with potentially serious consequences for patients as many will face even longer waits to receive care.
‘Every day, healthcare workers go above and beyond to keep services running and minimise disruption with the limited resources they have.’