Doncaster health boss labels Covid-19 Plan B 'a very high risk strategy' reliant on vaccine rollout and 'hoping NHS doesn't get overwhelmed'

The government’s Plan B approach to Covid-19 measures has been a ‘very high risk strategy’ and relies on ‘hoping the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed’, a senior Doncaster health figure has said.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 5:24 pm
Mandatory mask wearing returned in certain venues as part of the Plan B measures for Covid-19

Dr Rupert Suckling, director of public health at Doncaster Council criticised the approach taken by central government for England and said ministers were relying too much on the vaccine to get through the Omicron variant

He added that the NHS were now ‘picking up the pieces’ but said a circuit breaker or national lockdown at this point ‘isn’t going to make any difference with Omicron cases due to peak in a week or so.

Dr Suckling also compared London and South Yorkshire and despite being better vaccinated than the capital, the county’s population was generally older and more unwell.

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“We’re concerned about two things – the impact of the infection on people’s health, we still think that too many people are getting ill and needing to go to hospital and that we’re relying solely on the vaccine – although this is good, this is probably insufficient,” Dr Suckling said.

“That’s why we’ve certainly encouraged face coverings, social distancing and hand washing. The other thing we see is, you know, these very high rates, and we know that the link between the high rates and the severity for individuals is different with Omicron and is different in vaccinated people.

“I think directors of public health would say this is a very high risk strategy – it feels like it’s hoped the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed.

“When you think about South Yorkshire, yes, we have higher vaccination rates than London, but our population is generally older and less well. We’ve seen high mortality rates throughout the whole of the pandemic from Covid-19.

“Plan B is probably doing what it was intended to do but I don’t think that’s good enough.

“Now at this stage, we are expected to peak in the next 10 days or so. A national lockdown or circuit breaker isn’t going to make any difference at this stage. So we sort of missed the boat on that. But it just means that the health and care system is picking up the pieces.”