UK Covid live: 5.3m people waiting for hospital treatment in England, highest number since records began

Latest updates: number of people in England waiting for routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high

10.47am BST

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and other NHS trusts, has said that there are real risks to the opening up in England due to happen on 19 July. In an interview this morning he said:

We need to be realistic and we need to be open and honest about the fact that there are risks if we relax these restrictions and there will be consequences.

The NHS won’t be able to do everything given the demand pressures it has got and the fact that we have got reduced capacity in terms of both beds and staff numbers.

1/27 Lots of current focus on interaction between increasing levels of COVID-19 cases and NHS, in the context of relaxing restrictions on 19 July. New thread follows. Key questions to answer: what’s the likely impact on NHS, can it cope and what does this mean for 19 July?

23/27 B. Trust leaders can see the strong logic of “if not now, when” and the need for the nation to learn to live with covid-19. But they want everyone to be clear about the risks being run by relaxing restrictions. We can’t be sure what those risks are or how big they are.

24/27 They include higher hospitalisation and mortality, albeit at much lower levels than previous waves. The risk of new, more dangerous, variants emerging given the width of spread. And the potential impact for those who develop longer term health complications…

25/27 …In the words of one CEO today “We are really worried in our system about the number of unvaccinated young people we are seeing with mild covid-19 disease who are then developing serious long covid type symptoms shortly after. Not just a few, a significant number”

10.15am BST

Here are some more lines from Rishi Sunak’s interviews this morning. I have already posted on what he said about the test-and-trace app, and how the way it works might be changed. (See 9.05am.)

Our approach to these things will be driven by fairness – fairness both for pensioners and for taxpayers.

I think people understand what’s right for a crisis, and what’s meant to be temporary obviously is different when we get through that.

I think the prime minister and I are on exactly the same page. I think it’s wrong to make out there’s some difference between us.

We go through these things together and we have absolutely the same ambitions for the country and the people that we have the privilege to represent.

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