A year on from the first national lockdown, the NHS Confederation is urging the government to remember the enormous human cost of the Covid-19 crisis as the health and social care sectors brace to battle a third wave of the virus.
According to the latest ONS mortality figures, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 12 March 2021 (Week 10) was 10,987, this was 605 fewer deaths than the previous week.
In Week 10, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 4.4% below the five-year average (511 fewer deaths), this is the first time that deaths have fallen below the five-year average since the week ending 4 September 2020.
Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: ‘As these figures show deaths from Covid-19 continue to decline, we can be reassured of the continuing success of the vaccination programme, alongside a continued cautious approach, and public adherence to the restrictions.
‘However, on this day of reflection as one year passes since the first national lockdown, we must remember the enormous human cost of this crisis, with 146,000 people who have sadly lost their lives, and so many others deeply affected. It has been a year like no other, with many difficult lessons learned.
‘Yet while there is some cause for optimism, we must also acknowledge that we still face restrictions and will do for some time to come.
‘The NHS is still under real pressure, with a mammoth and ever-growing backlog of treatment, as well the challenge of supporting the many people who are still being affected by Covid-19, those who have longer-term symptoms, and those with associated mental health needs.
‘The prime minister has warned that the renewed wave of Covid infections in Europe is more than likely to affect the UK, and that there is a real need to avoid complacency, and maintain social distancing, mask-wearing and hand hygiene.
‘Our NHS teams, especially in primary care, have been working flat out to deliver the vaccination programme, but any delays in supplies could slow down the ability to protect every adult in the UK.
‘We urge the government to take stock, keep learning the hard lessons, and offer the support the health service needs.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, and so far our heroic health and care staff have vaccinated more than 27m people.
‘We have visited every eligible care home in England, offered vaccines to all staff and are doing everything we can to ensure all those who can take up the vital offer.
‘All eligible staff can book using the national booking service. “We have introduced measures specifically designed to increase uptake of the vaccine including working with local leaders in communities with lower take up to maximise vaccination numbers and save thousands of lives.’
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