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NHS bosses ‘very worried’ about Christmas surge of Covid, flu and care backlog

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, claimed that health trusts in England are already at “unprecedented” levels for bed occupancy for the autumn.



Hospital chiefs have warned they are “very worried” over how the NHS will cope this winter(Daily Mirror)

Hospital chiefs have warned they are “very worried” over how the NHS will cope this winter juggling the pressures of Covid, flu and the care backlog.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, claimed that health trusts in England are already at “unprecedented” levels for bed occupancy for the autumn.

The Government has said if the health service once again comes under unsustainable pressure it could be forced to bring back coronavirus -1>coronavirus restrictions.

Health bosses have been urging over-50s to get Covid booster jabs or face a “long and difficult winter” amid concern that waning immunity could lead to high cases.

Mr Hopson warned: “The health service is expecting to see a combination of higher levels of Covid and higher levels of flu this winter while dealing with the backlog of care for patients.”

“The accident and emergency pathway is very, very busy. So, at a point when our staff are really exhausted, it is very worrying.

“The bit that’s particularly worrying is acute hospitals, where effectively you look at bed occupancy, which is a very good measure of how busy a hospital is, we’re seeing bed occupancy levels of 94, 95, 96%”.

He added: “At this point, before we’re into peak winter. We’ve not seen that before. That’s unprecedented. So, there’s a real sense that the NHS is going to be under real pressure.”

Mr Hopson added that the NHS was “very worried” about the impact of compulsory Covid-19 jabs for NHS staff.

Ministers warned last week that vaccines would be made compulsory for the NHS’s 1.45 million staff in England.

But they have faced criticism that forcing frontline personnel to get jabbed is heavy-handed and will lead some to quit.



Mr Hopson added that the NHS was “very worried” about the impact of compulsory Covid-19 jabs(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“The bit that’s absolutely vital, and we have seen this in social care, is that if we get this wrong then what will happen is we risk a significant loss of a significant number of staff, just at the point when we cannot afford to lose those staff,” Mr Hopson added.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor of the UK Health Security Agency, warned that it looked like the UK was past the current peak cases – but could “stay at a very high level”.

So far almost 10 million people in the UK have received a top-up jab but just 60% of over-50s in England have received a booster shot.



Ministers are considering new travel restrictions for Brits who fail to take their booster jabs(Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

NHS England said a record number of top-up vaccines were recorded on Saturday, with 371,339 administered, 12.4% higher than the previous week.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that if “we all come together and play our part” then the country can “avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas”.

But worried ministers are considering new travel restrictions for Brits who fail to take their booster jabs to boost uptake, according to reports.

Dr Hopkins told the BBC : “We are seeing immune waning effects from the vaccine, we know the virus is circulating at very high levels in our community.

“Unless people get vaccinated we’re gong to have a long and difficult winter.”

But she said the virus was gradually becoming “endemic” and she hoped that by Christmas next year dealing with it would be standard NHS procedure.

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