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What are the ‘Plan B’ measures NHS chiefs are asking government to implement?


NHS chiefs have called on the government to take urgent action to halt the spread of coronavirus to avoid a winter crisis.

The NHS confederation, a membership body of health care trusts and commissioning groups, said that ministers’ “Plan B” strategy should be implemented.

Under “Plan B”, a contingency plan drawn up by government ministers, face masks would be made compulsory in some settings and people would be asked to work from home again.

Vaccine passports could be introduced for some venues.

The public would also be told “clearly and urgently” about the need to exercise caution to help control the virus.

Outlining the potential plan in the Commons, health secretary Sajid Javid said that “although this is not an outcome anyone wants, we have to be ready just in case”.

The head of the NHS confederation has warned that these “Plan B” measures are necessary so that efforts being made to tackle the backlog of 5m patients would not be derailed.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS confederation, said: “We are right on the edge – and it is the middle of October. It would require an incredible amount of luck for us not to find ourselves in the midst of a profound crisis over the next three months.

“The government ought to not just announce that we’re moving to Plan B, but it should be Plan B plus. We should do what’s in Plan B in terms of masks… working from home, but also we should try to achieve the kind of national mobilisation that we achieved in the first and second waves, where the public went out of their way to support and help the health service.”

Despite the calls from NHS chiefs, the government has said that it has “absolutely no plan” to introduce new measures but added that they were keeping a “very close eye” on the data.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News on Wednesday morning that there would not be another national lockdown, saying: “I would rule that out.”

He added: “I think the conversation about restrictions on travel, restrictions on more lockdowns is completely unhelpful.

“We don’t want to go back into lockdown and further restrictions.”

On Tuesday the UK reported 223 Covid-19 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test – a seven-month high.

The seven-day average for Covid-19 cases stands at 44,145 a day, which is higher than other European countries.

  1. So what is ‘Plan B’?

    “Plan B”, a contingency plan draw up by government ministers, includes the reintroduction of some social distancing measures.

    It includes compulsory face masks in some settings, asking people to work from home, and introducing vaccine passports.

    Under “Plan B” the public would be told “clearly and urgently” about the need to exercise caution to help control the virus.

    Outlining the “Plan B” scenario in the Commons, health secretary Sajid Javid said that “although this is not an outcome anyone wants, we have to be ready just in case.”

  2. How likely is it that ‘Plan B’ will be implemented?

    The government has said that it has “absolutely no plan” to introduce new measures but added that they were keeping a “very close eye” on the data.

    Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News on Wednesday morning that there would not be another national lockdown, saying: “I would rule that out”.

    He added: “I think the conversation about restrictions on travel, restrictions on more lockdowns is completely unhelpful.

    “We don’t want to go back into lockdown and further restrictions.”

    Government scientific advisers will be monitoring the number of hospitalisations, any rapid changes in the figures, and will also take a broader view of the state of the NHS.

    On Tuesday the UK reported 223 Covid-19 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test – a seven-month high.

    The seven-day average for Covid-19 cases stands at 44,145 a day, which is significantly higher than other European countries.

  3. If this is ‘Plan B’, what was ‘Plan A’?

    “Plan A” has included offering Covid-19 booster jabs to about 30m people, including health care workers and people with certain health conditions.

    12-to-15-year-olds are being offered a single dose of the vaccine and the government is trying to encourage unvaccinated people to get jabbed.

    “Plan A” also includes encouraging people to go for their free flu jab and reminding people to wear face masks when they are in crowded places.

  4. Why do NHS chiefs want ‘Plan B’ implemented?

    The head of the NHS confederation has warned that “Plan B” measures need to be introduced or efforts being made to tackle the backlog of 5m patients would be derailed.

    Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “We are right on the edge – and it is the middle of October. It would require an incredible amount of luck for us not to find ourselves in the midst of a profound crisis over the next three months.

    “The government ought to not just announce that we’re moving to Plan B, but it should be Plan B plus. We should do what’s in Plan B in terms of masks… working from home, but also we should try to achieve the kind of national mobilisation that we achieved in the first and second waves, where the public went out of their way to support and help the health service.”


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