Minister insists that pressure on the NHS is ‘sustainable’ – doctors say otherwise

Minister of State for Health of UK, Edward Argar has said that the pressure on the NHS remains ‘sustainable’ in response to calls to reintroduce some Covid restrictions due to skyrocketing cases.

Despite the British Medical Association demanding the return of measures such as compulsory face coverings and mandatory social distancing to combat the ‘unacceptable’ levels of infection rate, Mr. Argar has stood firmly against their reintroduction.

He said: “The NHS, while under huge pressure at the moment, it is a sustainable pressure. The key factor you may come to a little bit later is what’s the difference between now and last time, when we saw these high levels of infection rates, and it is of course the vaccine programme.”

“We have a challenging winter coming, you’d normally have me on to talk about winter pressures in the NHS and flu. The NHS is coping with a difficult situation, but there are a lot of factors we need to look at.”

The British Medical Association are continuing to insist that further measures must be put in place now, and have gone as far as accusing ministers of being “willfully negligent” for ignoring the pleas of NHS leaders to implement “Plan B”. The NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare providers, even called for a “Plan B Plus”, fearing that the health service was “stumbling into a crisis” and “right on the edge”.

The government does not have a set figure which would trigger restrictions being reinstated, but Sky News have been told that they will be considering a combination of factors, including hospital deaths and vaccinations.

Mr Argar has also dismissed reports from the Daily Telegraph that suggested that Cabinet Office official were considering a “Plan C”, which would see the return of a ban on household mixing indoors.

The minister refuted the suggestions, telling Sky News: “That’s not something I’m aware of, I checked it out and I’m told that is not a story with foundation.

“Of course, as a government, you look at – as we’ve done with our plan B – alternatives and ways that you might, if you needed to, start easing that pressure.

“The specifics of that and what was mooted in it as I understand it, as I only glanced at it I’m afraid on my way in this morning, about limiting household mixing, things like that … is that it isn’t something that is being actively considered.”

Meanwhile, a former chief scientific adviser told BBC Newsnight that the current strategy was unlikely to work. Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “Winter is coming, flu is probably coming. It’s not a good place to be. The evidence is that the current measures are probably not holding things.”

People are continuing to be urged to have their booster jabs in order to retain their current freedoms, as Sajid Javid warned that Britain could see up to 100,000 cases a day.


Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.