SAM president shares concerns about Covid “Christmas wave” in January

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday warned of the possibility of a “Christmas wave” of Covid in January as rules are relaxed over the festive period, while NHS Providers suggested January could be extremely difficult for the NHS due to a combination of resurgent Covid caused by Christmas gathering in addition to normal winter pressures – especially if worsened by a cold snap. 

In response, Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “We absolutely share the concerns set out by the WHO and NHS Providers about the possibility of a Christmas wave of Covid in January – as well as the potent threat of this combined with “normal” intense winter pressures exacerbated by cold weather.

“We have warned about the threat of this for many weeks and it is no secret that, in my opinion, the relaxation of rules at Christmas is crass in the extreme. Combined with the bickering among politicians we have seen in recent days over the tiered system, it further weakens the importance of maintaining safety measures.

“After years of neglect and mismanagement, the NHS is already in a critical state in many respects full stop – reduction in acute bed numbers, thousands of vacancies, poor social care provision, vast funding gaps and no laws to ensure safe staffing levels to name but a few issues.

“That makes everything right now much more precarious and leaves the system on knife-edge. It is the responsibility of everyone to limit contact and follow safety measures over the coming weeks and months to avoid mass stress burdening the NHS in the difficult winter months.

“Despite silence from senior leaders on the subject of same day emergency care, we will continue to push home the message that it is a vital tool in the effort in keep patients out of hospital beds safely, particularly with the threats we face.

“We know from a recent SAM survey only about a third of these are currently working without some form of restriction, so this should be addressed as a matter of urgency in the areas where caseloads remain high and the need could be greatest.”

See today’s Guardian front page for more on this story.