Majority of doctors believe the tier system will have little to no impact on coronavirus spread

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More than a third of doctors in England feel the government’s tier system will have no impact on efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), while almost half (46%) said they thought the system would only work to a slight extent. This is according to a wide-ranging survey from the British Medical Association (BMA).

The research also raises concerns about the confidence of healthcare staff for the autumn/winter period. More than half said they’re “quite anxious” about it.

“Enormous scale” of challenges

The findings show the “enormous scale of the challenges” facing the NHS into winter, the BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said.

He added:

Large numbers of doctors across England have little faith that the Government’s current ‘tiered’ based lock-downs will have any significant impact on controlling the virus.

Instead of a few short weeks of suppression, bringing economic and emotional misery for those in the areas affected, we need a national prevention strategy that has a lasting impact and gets growing infection rates under control across England.

The BMA said it’s calling for the government to be “both honest and realistic with the public about whether the NHS can cope with routine care and Covid care this winter”.

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Dr Nagpaul also said:

Doctors know that this winter is likely be one of the most difficult times of their careers.

They are extremely worried about the ability for the NHS to cope and their ability to care for the needs of their patients.

Almost two thirds (65%) of healthcare staff surveyed said staffing shortages are a concern in the months ahead.

In terms of dealing with patients, 58% said they’re concerned about the ability to cope with demand from non-coronavirus patients. While 44% said they were worried about the ability to cope with demand from patients with coronavirus symptoms.

Only around a third said they have premises that are currently suitable to adequately separate coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients. This is a statistic which, the BMA said, highlights how difficult it’ll be to meet an expectation of resuming normal NHS services.

Survey results

The BMA said 6,610 doctors in England took part in the survey during the week of 19 October.

Asked to what extent they believed the current rules for tiering in their area will be effective in containing the spread of the virus, more than a third (37%) said they felt they would have no impact or be ineffective. Around half (46%) said they thought they would work to a slight extent. And just 5.95% said a significant extent.

Almost a fifth (19%) of those questioned said that in the two weeks leading up to the mid-October survey, they’d seen a significant increase in the number of coronavirus cases. And the number was was higher than the same point in the first wave.

Some 11% said while their local health system has plans in place to be able to address the backlog of patients whose care was cancelled, delayed, or otherwise disrupted amid the pandemic, they’d not yet made any progress. While just over a quarter (27%) said they had made some progress.

A majority (70%) said they had not contracted coronavirus. While 60% said they’re concerned about their personal health and wellbeing.

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