Your article (England may have to reimpose Covid rules in August, scientists warn, July 21) says some restrictions may have to be reintroduced within three weeks to avoid the NHS becoming overwhelmed – but it is. I am a 999 call center paramedic and never knew things were so bad.
People wait more than 15 minutes for their calls to be answered. Can you imagine waiting so long for the operator to ask “is the patient breathing” if he’s not?
We don’t have the resources to allocate to even the most life-threatening emergencies, and those we consider least dangerous are hours of waiting – sometimes until the next day – for an ambulance. This includes elderly falls, children exposed to domestic violence, and people who have lost consciousness.
Ambulances have been queuing outside hospitals for more than two and a half hours as there is no room for patients. Meanwhile, road workers are sitting at 30°C in full PPE unable to drink water or take a break to eat. Call handlers are crying, with no five seconds between calls and having to ask to use the restroom after hours without a break because there are so many missed calls.
It’s not just the “pandemic epidemic” that’s causing problems, although I can’t say we haven’t been affected by the Covid outbreak and contact tracing isolation. The demand for calls is much higher than I’ve ever known. If cases, hospitalizations, and deaths double every three weeks, why wait three weeks for things to get twice as bad?
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There is a huge error in NHS testing and tracing, but one thing that cannot be blamed is the pandemic (limited number of critical workers allowed to avoid self-isolation, July 22). This is an expected consequence of the Tory government’s criminal, let it rip, live with the virus policy. It allows the virus to spread quickly, which not only opens the way for more vaccine-resistant mutations and variants, but also means that more and more people are likely to come into contact with an infected person.
Tweaking the app or excluding some workers won’t solve the problem – or a pandemic. It will make it worse because it will mean that more infected people (including those who are double stabbed but can still spread disease) will mingle rather than isolate. The only way to stop pinging is by bringing back mitigation measures such as mandatory mask wearing and social distancing, making workplaces and indoor spaces safe, providing practical and financial support for self-isolators, and by putting all super dispensers – for example, festivals, sporting events and clubs – on hold for a few more weeks.
While some people and businesses are being disadvantaged by the pandemic, let’s not forget that the number of people who have tested positive for the virus has increased by 24% in the past week or so. The number of hospitalizations increased by more than 30% and there was a 50% increase in deaths during the same period.
So instead of just focusing on the consequences of being stressed, let’s all realize the gravity of the situation and continue to get vaccinated, maintain social distancing, wear our masks, and wash our hands regularly to protect each other.
Professor Claire Anderson
President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
If the purpose of the NHS Covid-19 app is to stop the spread of infection, and the Delta variant is more transmissible than the previous variants, it certainly doesn’t make sense for the app to become less sensitive.