The Covid crisis in Britain appeared to have picked up today, with deaths and cases increasing for the first-ever time in just four days according to government statistics.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data show Britain recorded 48,374 new cases over the last 24 hours, up 10.8 per cent on last week’s total of 43,676.
The number of positive tests increased for the first time since Friday. But, 8 new Omicron Omicron cases were found in England yesterday. This brings the total of Omicron Omicron Omicron variants detected in the UK to 22.
Likewise, the number of people dying with the virus increased 14.8 per cent to 171 today, up from 149 recorded last Wednesday.
But hospitalisations continued to fall, with 706 people admitted to hospital with coronavirus on Saturday, the latest date data is available for.
The figures come after Sajid Javid today admitted GPs’ workload will be shifted to focus on the booster campaign in a dramatic U-turn — as fears grow that face-to-face appointments with doctors will once again take the hit.
The Health Secretary said getting third doses into people’s arms to protect against the Omicron variant had become the ‘new national mission’, after months of strong-arming GPs into seeing more non-Covid patients in-person.
Last night, No10 set the goal of providing more than 50million booster shots to all adults by January 31st. This will require massively increasing the drive that is only reaching 2.5m per week.
GPs will once again be a key anchor of the vaccination programme and will be incentivised with doctors getting £15 for every jab delivered with a £5 bonus per shot delivered on Sundays and a £30 premium for jabs delivered to vulnerable people in their homes.
Another day of chaos caused by coronavirus
- Officials from the World Health Organization claimed that most Omicron cases were’mild,’ adding there was no evidence to suggest the vaccine’s new variant had any effect on serious illnesses.
- Israeli health officials stated that anyone who has had their booster Pfizer Covid vaccination within the past six months, or who received their second jab after it expired, should remain highly protected against Omicron.
- Chiefs of the travel industry reacted negatively to Sage’s proposal to place a mandatory quarantine on all UK arrivals and require them to undergo pre-departure Covid testing regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
- NHS Lanarkshire wrote letters to offer appointments for people who were most in need, and gave dates and times when they would be able to get their next jab.
- Following the announcement that new rules regarding self-isolation would be made in law by March, Tory MPs have blasted Government. There are fears that curbs may remain in place beyond the promised three week review.
- NHS trusts in England advised staff not to have Christmas parties this year in case they catch the OmicronVariant and cannot come to work.
Data from the Government showed that 393,000 adults had received their third booster dose of vaccines yesterday. That brings the total vaccination rate to 18.6million.
Around 30,500 were administered their first shot, with 32,000 receiving the second.
Asked if he would lighten the load for doctors who have complained about excess work, Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Yes —this is our new national mission in terms of the public health of this country there is nothing more important.
“We have been working with GP representatives over the past two days to find ways we can make their lives easier. It will not be something I do right now, but it will be done by the NHS.
Some are concerned about the impact re-prioritization will have on face to face appointments with GPs. While they only recently increased their share of 64%, it is still significantly below its pre-pandemic level.
Last night, the National Audit Office released a report warning that up to 740,000 urgent GP referrals had been missed for cancers suspected during the pandemic.
There are also concerns about the wider impact the shift could have on non-Covid care, with record A&E wait times, and heart attack and stroke patients facing average waits for an ambulance of nearly an hour.
Last month, Mr Javid warned that the emergency department was under severe strain due to patients’ inability to visit GPs.
Javid, who was appointed Health Secretary in June said that the NHS backlogs had been his “top priority” and that the country must learn to live together with Covid.
Royal College of GPs stated that ‘decisions would have to be made’ due to the fact that family physicians cannot keep up with demand and juggle an enormous booster jab program.
A chief executive of the NHS stated that getting GPs on board to oversee the vaccination program was “a huge ask” and added it would be difficult for them to meet the January deadline due to a shortage of nurses, volunteers, and facilities.
Below is a graph showing how the NHS’s waiting list might grow until 2025. National Audit Office warned that if half of the missing patients return, and the demand for treatment grows by 3.2 percent per year, the wait list could rise to 12million. However, if the NHS is able to improve the quality of the treatments it provides by more than 10% per year, the NHS should be able to stabilize the patient list at 8million before it falls slightly.
Latest figures reveal that the proportion of patients with cancer who started treatment in less than a month has fallen to its lowest point since September records were created. The records were created in 2009. In 2009, records were started.
Total 18million Britons have received a booster jab thus far. Yesterday’s guidance changes will make it possible for all 53 million adults aged 18 and over to be eligible. It would take up to March for everyone to be boosted at the current rate, which is 2.4 million jabs per semaine.
Despite the total A&E admissions in England being just two per cent more than August and equal to the number of people who came forward during the same month (October) in 2019, 7,059 patients were forced to wait more than 12 hours to be seen at A&E. This record-breaking figure represents 40% more than 5,024 patients who had to wait so long just one month before.
Official data today revealed that the NHS waiting list in England for routine hospital care has now reached 5.83million. This is the 11th consecutive month of a record-breaking figure. Some 1.6million more Britons were waiting for elective surgery — such as hip and keen operations — at the end of September compared to the start of the pandemic
While the NHS has always struggled with meeting its recommendations for responding to Category 2 emergencies (strokes or severe burns), patients have been waiting on average nearly one hour for an ambulance since calling 999.
In remarking on the goal that all should receive an offer for a third Covid vaccine before the end of January (Mr Javid) he added, “This is a big thing that we’re trying to accomplish – it’s essential that this happens.”
However, doctors warn that some aspects of their medical work could be lost as they focus on pritoritizing vaccines.
In a famous battle of words, Javid demanded that GPs increase their face-to–face appointments. At one point, he threatened to impose a ‘name-and-shame’ system on the profession for performing poorly.
Gary Howson, Vice Chairman of Royal College of GPs hinted at the need for decisions on the type of doctor that can be provided. He stated: ‘GPs work to their full potential right now.
“And if our focus is going to shift to the vaccine programme, then we need to make some clinical decisions as to where there’s most clinical value.”
While nodding his head to face-to–face visits, Dr Howson said that doctors will need to prioritize certain elements of their work over the next months. He also called for more Government support in order to reduce the amount of bureaucracy which eats into patient-care.
He stated that GPs face immense pressure. In October we had 34million visits, which was 2 million more than in September, 7million more than August, and two-thirds of them were face-to-face.
We need to know what it is we are able to quit doing. Do not do audits or tick-box exercises. These are distractions that can take you away from your work. The Government must fulfill its pledges to recruit 6,000 additional GPs by 2024 and to create 26,000 new team members.
Already 400 soldiers have been drafted by the Government, and 1500 pharmacies are being enrolled in the boost campaign. This will accelerate the pace of rollout.
However, Dr Farah Jamel (chair of BMA’s England GP Committee), yesterday suggested that less urgent appointments such as routine blood pressure check should be canceled. These contracts are our obligations. Since months we’ve been calling for it to be lifted. She stated that they are a “burnt out workforce”.
“What we want is a shift in the focus of clinical priorities. There is no way we can do everything. It is important to concentrate on the clinical needs. Right now, we need to focus our efforts on the massive implementation of a booster and vaccination program. It is possible, but it seems that we have been distracted by other priorities. It is important that we are released from our contractual obligations’.
Patients who recently saw a rise in the ability to visit doctors in person despite the fact that the numbers are still low, will feel disappointed if the Covid booster push causes fewer appointments to GPs. pre-pandemic levels.
NHS England data indicates that 64 percent of October GP appointments were face to face, compared with eight out 10 in the period before the pandemic.
Last month, Mr Javid announced a £250million package for GP surgeries to help doctors offer more in-person consultations.
However, doctors rejected these plans that included “naming and shame” practices which did not offer enough face-to–face appointments.
Although doctors have claimed that some patients prefer to consult via virtual means because it is more convenient, there are also reports about vulnerable individuals not being able to access the information they need.
The coroners warned that the remote appointment may have caused deaths.
A chief executive of the NHS stated that getting GPs on board to oversee the vaccination program was “a huge ask” and added it would be difficult for them to meet the January deadline due to a shortage of nurses, volunteers and facilities.
And one GP practice manager tweeted: ‘Cash won’t make much difference, it’s the workload & workforce that’s the problem. This is not about the people who call patients and organise rotas.
The potential consequences of a lack of GP face-to-face appointments were laid bare yesterday after a National Audit Office report detailed millions of patients had missed out on vital care during the pandemic – and could now return to the health service to increase the backlog.
This was due to the fact that between 240,000- 740,000 urgent GP referrals were missing for cancer patients from March 2020 through September 2021. Between 35,000 to 60,000 people received treatment for cancer in this period, which is lower than what would be expected.
According to the report, it’s not clear how many cases will be returned to the NHS in the next few months.
If 50 percent of those affected seek treatment and the activity keeps growing in accordance with pre-pandemic plans then there would be 12 million people on the waiting list by March 2025.
Current The record-breaking waiting list for NHS healthcare is already at 5.83 Million.
NHS England data showed that only 83% of patients saw within the standard 18-week period in February 2020. A mere 66% of patients were seen within the 18-week standard by last month.
NAO also found that Boris Johnson’s controversially created ‘health and care levy’ is not adequate to stem the rise in hospital waiting lists. It is possible that this report increases fears about the NHS swallowing up nearly all of the new tax in the coming years. This will leave very little money for the crumbling social services sector.
The impact of the Covid backlog is also being felt in the nation’s A&E departments.
Despite total emergency department admissions in England being in October being equal to the number of people who came forward during the same month in 2019, 7,059 patients were forced to wait more than 12 hours to be seen at A&E. It is 40% higher than the record 5,024 who were forced to wait this long a month ago.
The average time it takes for an ambulance to respond to a stroke or heart attack patient is nearly one hour. Paramedics acknowledged that this is placing patients’ lives in danger. Three times more than what the 18 minute safety target for Category 2 calls means that 999 responses are taking longer to respond to.
Boris Johnson revealed the stepped-up booster drive yesterday in order to defend the country from the Omicron strain, shortly after being alerted by eight additional cases of Omicron infection found in England.
The Government plans to recruit 10,000 additional paid vaccine volunteers, as well as “tens of thousands” more unpaid volunteers. These volunteers will help in the mammoth booster drive and also draft 1,500 community pharmacies.