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BMA chiefs say Boris Johnson’s ‘Freedom Day’ killed thousands

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THE head of the British Medical Association has delivered a harsh verdict on the UK government’s handling of the Covid crisis – and said Boris Johnson’s so-called Freedom Day left thousands dead.

Chronic NHS neglect and lack of preparedness before the pandemic, as well as flawed government thinking, have added to the tragic impact of Covid-19, according to Dr Chaand Nagpaul in a speech to be delivered at the annual meeting representatives of the BMA.

NHS England was already in crisis, with waiting lists at an all time high and expectations for cancer treatment – closer to 90,000 vacancies before the pandemic, he warned.

He is about to say: ‘We will not accept a return to the old pre-pandemic NHS, which was clearly under-staffed and under-resourced, where nine in ten doctors fear medical errors on a daily basis.

“We will not accept a functioning NHS with unsafe bed occupancy and no reserve capacity.

“We will not accept an NHS unprepared for a pandemic, without PPE vital to protect the health and lives of healthcare and care workers.

“We will not accept an NHS in crisis every summer, let alone every winter.”

He added: “We will not accept a nation without public health personnel, facilities and testing capacity, with ministers then pouring billions into private companies that have not been able to deliver.”

The National: Nurses working in ward 5, a Covid red ward, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.  Picture date: Wednesday January 27, 2021. PA Photo.  See the story of PA HEALTH Coronavirus Hospital.  Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow / PA Wire.

More than 130,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK since the start of the pandemic and there were 12,000 non-Covid excess deaths last year, according to the BMA.

Nagpaul suggests that England’s so-called Freedom Day on July 19, when many restrictions were relaxed, was a “gamble” that has since contributed to nearly 40,000 hospitalizations and more than 4,000 deaths.

Nagpaul is also worried about the extent to which the recently announced additional funding for the NHS and social care, as he continues to grapple with the pandemic and a backlog of cases, will expand.

The UK government plans to raise an additional £ 12 billion a year for the NHS and adult social services through an increase in national insurance next spring.

The NHS will get the bulk of the share for the first three years, with £ 5.3bn earmarked for social care, of which £ 500m will be spent on training and recruiting workforce.

Tory ministers say social services will receive more money after this window as the £ 86,000 cost cap, which comes into effect in October 2023, begins to require funding.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: ‘We have supported the health service every moment, with an additional £ 29bn to support health and care services on top of our historic settlement for the NHS in 2018.

“This will see the NHS budget increase by £ 33.9 billion by 2023/24.

“At the same time, we are supporting the NHS with an additional £ 36bn for health and social care and £ 8bn set aside to tackle arrears and help the NHS deliver nine million checks, tests and additional operations for patients across the country. ”

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