FACEMASKS and social distancing should be brought back in to protect the NHS following a massive spike in Covid cases, a senior NHS leader has demanded.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, wants ministers to discuss “sensible precautions” that Brits can take to help ease pressure on the health service.
He also warned of major concerns within the NHS that the Government "doesn't seem to want to talk about coronavirus anymore".
The NHS chief said instead Britain needs a "proper grown-up national debate about what living with Covid actually means”, The Times reports.
It follows comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who announced the end of all legal Covid restrictions in England in February.
At the time, Mr Johnson said: “Let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restrictions on our freedoms.”
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Hopson added that pretending that Covid “doesn’t exist any more and that nobody needs to take any precautions” was one of the reasons for the record number of infections in recent weeks.
It comes as the British Medical Association has called for masks and free tests to be reinstated to stem the spread they are seeing in hospitals.
A further 27,255 positive cases were recorded in the UK in the latest figures from Thursday April 14 as Covid rampages across Britain.
And in the seven days prior – a shocking 1,984 deaths were recorded within 28-days of a positive test.
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It comes as nearly 16,000 patients are currently hospitalised with the virus – double what it was a few weeks ago.
And to make matters worse, shocking new statistics revealed that more than 70,000 health service staff are currently off sick – 40 percent of them have Covid.
“Nobody in the NHS either expected or predicted this level of Covid at this point,” he said.
“It is creating a real, real pressure.”
Hopson stressed: “Nobody is arguing we should go back to draconian lockdown restrictions, but this is not all or nothing."
He argued how other European nations have reached an "intermediary point" where the level of risk is outlined to the public.
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This involved leaders telling the public they should "think carefully" about wearing masks, ventilation and assessing how many people they mix with.
Hopson went on to say the debate on Covid curbs should be supported by Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser.
Pressure on the NHS has also soared due to the 20,000 patients occupying hospital beds who are medically fit but cannot be discharged due to the pressures on social care.
Hopson has been told this is because at least a quarter of the UK’s 18,000 care homes have had Covid outbreaks.
He said the NHS is running “higher levels of risk than ever seen before” and swamped by pressure normally experienced in the “very depths of winter”.
The NHS providers chief referenced a recent board meeting highlighted how the NHS is experiencing the "most difficult period over a sustained period of time".
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According to new data released on Thursday, the number of people waiting to start hospital treatment rose to a record 6.2 million in February.
There also record high trolley waits in emergency departments, accident and emergency waits and ambulance response times.
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