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Coronavirus news live: minister rules out England lockdown as NHS chief says ‘overwhelming evidence’ action needed

Kwasi Kwarteng says talk of restrictions ‘unhelpful’ as NHS boss says health service faces ‘perfect storm’

Chief executive of the NHS confederation Matthew Taylor has been on Sky News in the UK, and he had a strong message in support of the government taking steps towards “plan B” and take some action to avert a healthcare crisis over the winter. He said

The question is do we need to act? And I would say the overwhelming evidence is we do need to act, and then the question is, is it better to act early and take measures which don’t stop the economy working – but I recognise they are inconvenient – or do we wait, wait for things to get worse, and possibly risk having to take more severe measures.

So, the elements of plan B enable us to carry on with our lives, carry on with the economy, but to do so in a way which produces the risk. And after all, most of the measures in plan B are measures that other countries in Europe are continuing to enact, and they have lower infection rates than we do.

The government said that the criteria for determining whether or not we enacted elements of plan B was the position of the health service, and the health service is facing a perfect storm.

Winter is always tough for the health service for various reasons. We have got thousands of Covid patients in hospital, and it looks like those numbers are rising in line with the rising infection rate. And we’ve also got the huge pent-up demand that’s built up over the last 18 months.

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