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RCEM supports NHS Providers’ four tests to pass before lockdown restrictions are eased

18 February 2021

Responding to NHS Providers’ statement that lockdown can only be eased when four tests are passed, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“The four tests laid out by NHS Providers are sensible and, importantly, hint at a significant long-term issue that has made the NHS response to covid more difficult: a lack of capacity.

“At present we know that a sixth of all beds are occupied by covid patients, with over 115,000 beds occupied overall. The number of patients spending 12 hours of more in EDs is at record levels, despite fewer Emergency Department attendances.

“Long stays mean corridor care and nosocomial infection continue to pose a serious risk to patients – capacity levels remain high and Trusts are doing all they can do maintain stringent infection prevention control measures to ensure departments and patients are safe.

“While the NHS rollout of the vaccine is going well, the storm has not yet passed. We urge caution to make sure we do not inadvertently put more pressure on the NHS or risk a further wave of covid. It is likely that this disease will be with us long term, becoming a seasonal issue. The government should factor this – along with ensuring the NHS will have sufficient long-term capacity – into their planning and thinking in the upcoming budget.”

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