Government must enforce Covid 'Plan B' to avoid winter crisis, says NHS chief

20 October 2021, 06:19 | Updated: 20 October 2021, 07:27

The Government has been urged to enforce Plan B ahead of winter.
The Government has been urged to enforce Plan B ahead of winter. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The Government must enforce Plan B of their winter plan to avoid a crisis in coming months, an NHS chief has said.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Matthew Taylor, urged the Government to implement the back-up strategy amid rising Covid cases in the UK.

It would see the return of measures such as mandatory face coverings in public places and vaccine passports for nightclub entry.

Mr Taylor said the NHS was preparing for what could be "the most challenging winter on record" and urged the public to "show extra support for the NHS", "behaving in ways that will keep themselves and others safe".

He also warned that if the Government "fails to get a grip" on the increase in cases, the nation's recovery from the pandemic could be "put at risk".

Read more: Sajid Javid warns of 'tough winter' as No10 'closely' monitors new covid variant

Mr Taylor added: "It is time for the Government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without pre-emptive 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."

Read more: Face masks and lockdowns as 'last resort': Health Sec unveils 'winter plan' options

It comes after Sajid Javid told MPs on Tuesday that the vaccine programme was “ramping up” but that the NHS was facing a "particularly tough winter."

Professor Neil Ferguson, a leading member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), also said he thought "Plan B" could be implemented in England throughout winter. However, it is unlikely "we'll ever get close" to the lockdown the country experienced in January.

Downing Street said it was keeping a "very close eye" on rising case rates, but added the Prime Minister has "absolutely no plan to introduce Plan B".

Read more: NHS investigates issues with accessing Covid Pass

An official spokesman previously said Plan B would only be used if there was a "significant risk of the NHS being overwhelmed".

"There are a number of different factors that would play into that decision," he said.

"Largely it would be required when there was a significant risk of the NHS being overwhelmed.

"We are not at that point. Because of the vaccination programme, the levels we are seeing in both patients admitted to hospital and deaths are far lower than we saw in previous peaks."