HCSA calls for rethink on 'diluted' infection control guidelines

HCSA has called for an urgent rethink of England’s Covid-19 response in order to help prevent a second spike which could overwhelm hospitals.

Recent data released by the government revealed that we are currently only a few weeks behind France and Spain, both of which have reported large increases in infection rates.  

HCSA President Dr Claudia Paoloni warned that policy-makers here are currently adopting a complacent attitude towards hospital admissions, which have begun to creep up in the UK. 

In recent weeks Public Health England (PHE) and NICE guidance has been released for healthcare settings which stipulate lower protections in order to try to tackle the NHS procedure backlog. 

HCSA is calling for: 

  • A review of diluted NICE guidelines for testing and self-isolation of patients prior to planned hospital admissions 

  • An urgent rethink of PHE’s downgrading of infection control guidance within hospitals 

  • A review and guarantees the healthcare system has sufficient PPE stockpiles to see us through what could be extremely high demand lasting several months 

  • An urgent overhaul of the current testing system prior to the onset of the winter season 

  • Community measures including shorter opening times for pubs and other potential centres of transmission  

  • Robust legal enforcement of community measures such as the wearing of facemasks in areas of potential transmission

Dr Paoloni said: “This week’s hospital activity figures were a sad reminder of the huge impact the pandemic is having on hospital capacity. However, Covid-19 numbers will accelerate further the moment temperatures drop. Combined with influenza this means hospitals risk being rapidly overwhelmed and becoming centres of infection. 

“We are approximately four weeks behind Spain and France which even before winter are experiencing growing pressure on hospitals. We need realism not wishful thinking now or we could again go underprepared into a serious second wave within weeks. Such complacency would be unforgiveable. 

“We would urge a rethink of infection control in our hospitals which were watered down only three weeks ago. This now looks like a risky decision which given the rapidly rising number of Covid cases could be a recipe for disaster.”