"Wales' fire breaker lockdown is highly unlikely to work": former Public Health Wales chief

23 October 2020, 18:35 | Updated: 23 October 2020, 18:36

By Fiona Jones

Dr Roland Salmon, former head of diseases at Public Health Wales, explains why Wales' 17 day 'fire breaker' lockdown is "highly unlikely to work."

Wales has enforced a 'fire-breaker lockdown', meaning non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants have been closed and people are banned from socialising outside their own household.

Dr Roland Salmon told Eddie that it has "certainly been a relief" not to be in his former role at this time, although he branded it "frustrating" seeing things being put into place "which are highly unlikely to work."

"I think the fire break lockdown...[is] unlikely to work," he said, "I think the Welsh Government is to be applauded for actually putting the scientific advice it's following on line, I think it's a happy distinction to SAGE in that matter.

"If you look at the advice they've posted, even if it works as they've planned it to work, the number of deaths they think they're going to avoid between now and 31 March is 750.

Read more: Welsh supermarkets told to sell ‘essential’ items only as 'firebreak' starts at 6pm

I don't want to make light of that number but there's 30,000 deaths a year in Wales and they're putting aside £300 million from their contingency fund, money which won't be available for cancer drugs, mental health care, education, pretty much anything else."

The former member of Public Health Wales said the money that has been put aside is "rather more" than the body would use for putting new treatments into the NHS, for example.

Dr Roland said he'd like to see Wales move towards "as much more person-centred approach."

"We've got a clear idea who the vulnerable people are, your risk goes up times ten for every decade of age, and at about 40 it's about the same as having a road traffic accident.

"The people who died in the first wave in Wales were on average 80 years old and on average had two significant conditions as well," Dr Roland said, "what it does tell us there isn't a lot of, what the economists rather soullessly call, health gain here."

Meanwhile, he said, there is a huge social burden for the younger generations which will translate into ill health and lower life expectancy.