Following the release today of the latest NHS performance data (10 December) Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “This data is further evidence of the sustained pressures on the NHS and comes as we learn Covid-19 admissions are rising in most regions of England despite the November lockdown and the challenges of winter are brewing.
“We do not yet know if this is part of the second wave that has been hitting the rest of the country this autumn or more worrying signs of a potential third wave.
“In addition, as highlighted by the health select committee chair this week, it is extremely worrying that hospital-acquired COVID-19 infections rose sharply in November with the finger pointing towards overcrowded A&Es and delays in staff testing.
“If lockdown did not have as much of an effect as was initially hoped, there is a fear that this being combined with the relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period could cause significant problems for hospitals.
“We also have to factor in the impact of the Covid vaccination rollout because, while it is clearly a very welcome and positive development, there is a concern that it may fuel overconfidence among people at a critical point.
“We are now approaching the true winter in the NHS and are seeing emergency departments fill up rapidly with queues developing as hospitals struggle to free up “covid safe” space with the necessary staff to care.
“It is the responsibility of everyone to continue to maintain social distancing and other measures to help limit the spread of infection no matter what decisions are made or not made around restrictions over the coming weeks.”