Britain’s NHS boss: Few COVID patients had two jabs
London – The head of NHS Providers has said “very, very few” coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in hospital in England have received two coronavirus jabs – showing the vaccines provide “very high” levels of protection.
Chris Hopson said patients now tended to be younger – meaning there was a lower need for critical care.
But he said it was “incredibly striking” how busy hospitals were, as they deal with non-COVID backlogs.
Trusts were going “full pelt”, he said.
Meanwhile, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has confirmed that the government is considering making coronavirus vaccines compulsory for NHS staff.
NHS staff have been eligible to receive a jab since the first phase of the vaccine rollout – but the fact that there is no requirement for them to take up the offer has become a widely-debated issue.
Zahawi told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “It would be irresponsible of us as government and ministers not to ask that question.”
He added that surgeons have to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B “because there is a responsibility to protect those that are most vulnerable”.
Hopson said that trusts are seeing more patients who put off treatment in the pandemic – and who now require more complex care and longer stays.
There are 870 coronavirus patients in hospital in the UK, latest government figures show, compared to the peak of 39 249 in January.
“More informed debate” was needed over ending coronavirus restrictions in England on 21 June, Hopson added.
Hopson said he had spoken to heads of NHS trusts in hotspot areas in the past 48 hours, with one trust seeing 47 coronavirus patients on Saturday, compared to 49 the day before.
In comparison, the trust had 170 coronavirus patients during last November’s peak.
A “handful” of patients in hospital had received both vaccination doses, but they usually have additional conditions, he added.
About five million patients were waiting for surgery in England in March – the highest figure since modern records began.
NHS England figures show that more than 436 000 people were waiting for more than a year, compared with 1 600 before the pandemic.
A similar picture is emerging across the devolved nations.
Meanwhile, writing in the Observer, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said government “incompetence” is putting the end of restrictions at risk – after “weak, slow decisions” allowed the Indian variant to gain a foothold in several UK hotspots.