The British Medical Association (BMA) has launched a ‘blueprint’ for exiting the COVID-19-related lockdown, which it says could save lives and prevent the collapse of healthcare services this winter.
The report warns that lifting lockdown without new measures in place would risk deepening the crisis in the NHS and will leave hospitals and GP practices overwhelmed – "unable to provide even the most critical of patient care".
The report outlines major reforms for England's approach to tackling COVID-19, in a three-phased approach, to keep COVID-19 infection rates low.
The BMA is calling for the new measures – intended to bridge the time between the planned end of lockdown in England on 2 December, and an effective vaccine programme getting underway – to be rapidly brought in.
In phase one – before lockdown ends – the BMA calls for widescale reform to the testing and contact tracing programme.
In phase two – once England exits lockdown – the BMA demands far more effective and robust national measures up and running to reduce infection rates and keep the virus at bay.
The third phase covers the widespread uptake of a safe and effective vaccine, protecting vulnerable people and easing economic and societal restrictions.
The report says these actions need to be properly planned and resourced and the Government must use the current lockdown as the time to do this.
The BMA said the Government must learn from the first lockdown, where it claims rapid relaxation of infection control policies, inadequate monitoring, and encouragement to socially mix in restaurants and bars, and to return to work, resulted in a surge of virus spread, leaving the NHS unprepared to face autumn and winter,
BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said: “This report demonstrates a sustainable plan for reducing the level of infections from COVID-19 until a vaccine programme is underway.”