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PM urged to ‘ditch political rhetoric’ amid fears of coronavirus second wave – as Keir Starmer narrows gap in polls

PM urged to ‘ditch political rhetoric’ amid fears of coronavirus second wave – as Keir Starmer narrows gap in polls

Boris Johnson has been urged to ‘ditch political rhetoric’ on coronavirus

3 min read

NHS bosses are pleading with Boris Johnson to put in place a comprehensive plan to tackle a second wave of coronavirus infections, reports say.

The Prime Minister has been urged to “ditch the political rhetoric”, according to the Observer, which spoke to senior figures at the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the NHS Confederation and NHS providers.

Experts believe there should be no further easing of lockdown before a track and trace system is fully functional, the newspaper reports, and say ministers lack a clear strategy and are dodging an “honest and open” debate.

It comes as Labour gains ground on the Government in opinion polls – with Opinium showing the narrowest lead for the Conservatives since April and Mr Johnson ahead as best PM by just one point – within the margin of error.

The poll also shows a 21-point drop in public confidence in the Government’s ability to handle the pandemic.

The Observer said NHS bosses have called for:

• An “aggressive public health campaign” to boost flu immunisation to stop the NHS having to deal with flu as well as Covid-19 outbreaks this winter.

• The retraining of more hospital staff to be a “reserve” force, redeployed in the event of a second peak.

• The retaining of private hospital space to help deal with the NHS backlog.

• A comprehensive plan to protect care homes from a second peak.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told the paper: “The real concern is that we don’t have that same degree of trust, because we’re not having the kind of honest and open debates that we need. We seem to be resorting to kind of fairly cheap political rhetoric about stuff being world class, when it clearly isn’t.”

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “I think the criticism that we can’t see a strategy is a legitimate criticism … We need a strategy for test and trace, for PPE, for the use of technology, for maintaining Covid services and opening up non-Covid services.”

The coronavirus death toll passed 40,000 on Friday, according to official figures, which Health Secretary Matt Hancock called “a time of sorrow for us all”.

But the Department of Health and Social Care said hospitals had not been overwhelmed and intensive care capacity continues to meet needs “thanks to the dedication of NHS staff”.

“Our new NHS Test and Trace service is also up and running and anyone in this country with symptoms can book a test, with the majority getting their results back within a day,” a spokesperson added.

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