Self-isolation rules in England could be scrapped this month
Boris Johnson told MPs this week that all remaining Covid restrictions in England – including the legal rule to self-isolate – could end later this month. This would include the current rule, that anyone who tests positive must self-isolate for at least five full days.
Whilst the current restrictions are due to expire on 24 March, the Prime Minister said that he expected the last domestic rules would end early as long as the positive trends in the data continued. He said he intended to return after parliamentary recess – which runs from Thursday to 21 February – to outline the government’s strategy for living with Covid.
At the start of Prime Minister’s Questions “Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions – including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive – a full month early.”
Samantha Jones appointed to COO position
Samantha Jones, a former nurse and healthcare leader, has been appointed by Boris Johnson as a temporary chief operating officer in Downing Street as he rebuilds his depleted top team in an attempt to persuade fractious Tory MPs he can reassert his grip on government.
Jones has been advising the prime minister on managing the pandemic and will take on the new role for six months. Until last year she was the chief executive of Operose Health, the UK subsidiary of a US private health firm called Centene, which provides services including primary care to the NHS. She is also a former NHS trust chief executive.
One No 10 source described her role as “head of people”, highlighting her experience across the public and private sectors. Jones said: “I look forward to establishing an Office for the Prime Minister that provides him with the professional operation to deliver his agenda.”
Read the full story in The Guardian.
Sickest face record long waits for hospital bed
The sickest patients are facing long waits for a bed when they are admitted to hospital in England, NHS data shows. A third of the A&E patients – 122,000 in total – who were ill enough to need treatment on a ward waited over four hours in January – a record high. Some 16,500 of them waited over 12 hours – many either stuck on trolleys in corridors or in A&E bays because wards were full.
The NHS England figures also showed cancer waiting times have hit their worst level since records began, with only two-thirds of patients starting treatment within the target time of two months following an urgent GP referral. Meanwhile, the numbers of people on hospital waiting lists for planned treatments has risen to 6.1 million. Earlier this week ministers set out a recovery plan to tackle the backlog in treatments, which includes people waiting for hip and knee replacements.
Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said hospitals were stuck in a “vicious cycle” of delays which was affecting patient care. He said the waits for planned care were beginning to have an impact on A&Es, with the health of patients deteriorating to the point where they need emergency treatment.”Services are under significant pressure,” he added.
Call for six new mental health hospitals in England as buildings ‘crumble away’
Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has urged the government to fund six new mental health hospitals as part of its promise to build 48 new hospitals by 2030. Crumbling NHS buildings, leaky roofs and faulty equipment are putting the most seriously mentally ill people in the country at risk of harm and hindering their chances of recovery, James said.
The government has pledged billions in funding to build 48 hospitals by 2030. Of the first 40 hospital projects announced, only two were for mental health, according to the college. The final eight projects have not yet been named but James said at least six of these should be for mental health patients, in order “to address the imbalance of the programme”.
“Thousands of people with a mental illness in England are being treated in mental health hospitals that are dangerously old and not fit for purpose,” James said. “Up and down the country psychiatrists are having to assess and treat patients in buildings that are falling apart and crumbling away. People with a mental illness will be let down unless we have buildings that are fit for purpose. The government can no longer afford to pay lip-service to parity of esteem and treat mental health as an after-thought. We need a firm commitment from government that at least six of the new hospitals will be for mental health.”
Read the full story in The Guardian.
Quote of the week
About one in 10 fathers will experience a depressive episode within the first year after a baby is born. Dr Selena Gleadow-Ware, a consultant psychiatrist who chairs the perinatal faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists says depression can have a number of triggers after the birth of a baby.
“For a mother, that can include the physiological and hormonal changes they experience. But it can equally be caused by factors such as the significant transition involved in becoming a new parent, relationship stresses, money worries or sleep deprivation.These triggers can be experienced by both men and women”