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‘Living with Covid plan’ will hamper NHS patient care, doctors warn as restrictions lift

Senior doctors say the government’s “Living with Covid” plan will hamper the ability of the NHS to provide care.

Michelle Drage, chief executive of the Londonwide Local Medical Committee, which represents the majority of practices in the city, has said the government’s changes may discourage vulnerable patients to seek care when they need it, while David Nicholl, a neurologist and spokesperson for Doctors’ Association UK, said it could exacerbate health inequalities.

It comes as the legal requirement to isolate after testing positive is lifted from Thursday, while free Covid testing ends on 1 April.

NHS England sent a letter to all healthcare providers confirming workers would have to continue with current rules and not come into work after testing positive.

Staff were told they should continue to carrying out regular testing, and access this through national routes until 31 March, but were not given guidance on testing requirements beyond this.

Dr Drage said the changes in isolation and testing rules could put off vulnerable patients.

“We may well see people not being able to access the services they need to because they’re afraid to attend,” she said.

“Then to make people pay for those tests for what looks like a fiver a pop, when the people that can least afford it and the people who can least afford to take time off... suggests to me we’re increasing the risk of inappropriate transmission.”

“It’s a perfect storm that could be brewing that will have a further impact on the ability of patients to be properly cared for… It feels like, yet again, the government gambling with people’s health to sustain the economy.”

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Source: The Independent, 25 February 2022


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