NHS services across the London will be preparing to face what will undoubtedly be one of the toughest winters in the history of our health service.
Come the winter our NHS will need to tackle a backlog of care, treat Covid patients, deal with the seasonal flu and prepare for further local or national outbreaks of coronavirus.
Empowering local councils to close shops, outdoor events and public spaces, while long overdue, is entirely necessary to help reduce the spread of the virus and keep the pressure off the NHS. Though it is crucial that this is underpinned with adequate resources, clear local data shared with local Public Health bodies, and a well-managed test, track and trace system. So far, the government’s record in all these areas has not been good.
It is also crucial that any positive result is returned within 48 hours and that the result is communicated to the patient’s GP as well as the local authorities, to ensure swift action can be taken and any local flare ups prevented.
What’s more, to help our health services cope with the huge demands that still lie ahead and to avoid a second COVID-19 spike this winter, every one of us must make prevention our priority. New rules mean face coverings are now mandatory in shops as well as on public transport, however the BMA believes face coverings should be worn in all situations where it is not possible to be more than two metres apart – even if not mandated by Government. Shops and businesses must also lead by example by ensuring physical distancing is adhered to and by encouraging staff and employees to wear face coverings. Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to minimise the spread of Covid to help protect ourselves, each other and the NHS.
Dr Gary Marlowe, BMA London Regional Council chair