‘Plan B’ measures will come in when it’s already too late to save the NHS

Editorial: Rushed lockdowns will have to be imposed to save the NHS from a failure that everyone inside it can see coming

Thursday 21 October 2021 21:30
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The present government line is that the start of “plan B” measures – modest, and limited as they are to masks and more homeworking – will only be triggered if the NHS comes under “unsustainable pressure”. By that time, of course, it will be too late.

Nowhere, though, is this concept of “unsustainable” defined; indeed, one health minister has specifically declined to put any specific metrics on it. He simply proclaims that the NHS is under “sustainable pressure”.

This is difficult to reconcile with the facts on the ground, such as patients, including children, waiting almost 50 hours for a hospital bed in crowded A&E departments. Perhaps trying to be helpful to his ministerial bosses, Steve Powis, medical director for NHS England, has said that the health service is “very, very busy indeed” – a masterly piece of understatement.

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