More than a third of doctors believe the Government’s three-tier lockdown system will have no impact on the spread of coronavirus.
Liverpool, Manchester and other parts of the North East have been plunged into the strictest measures seen since the country went into full-scale lockdown in March, but questions are growing over how effective Tier 3 is at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Areas in the ‘very high,’ category of the Government’s scheme have to close pubs and bars, while households are banned from mixing.
A survey from the British Medical Association revealed 37 per cent of healthcare staff feel the Government’s tiered lockdown system would have no impact on Covid infection rates. It also revealed nearly two thirds of workers are worried about staff shortages over winter
But a survey of 6,000 healthcare workers has revealed a third do not believe the system will prevent the spread of the pandemic.
The British Medical Association poll also uncovered major concerns over the NHS’ ability to cope during the busy winter season.
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 per cent) said they felt they would have no impact or be ineffective, less than half (46 per cent) said they thought they would work to a slight extent and just 5.95 per cent said a significant extent.
It comes as experts in Scotland said there was little evidence to show that a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown had brought Covid cases down.
Nicola Sturgeon’s scientific advisers warned on Thursday it was ‘too early to detect any impact on transmission from the restrictions introduced on October 9’.
Lockdown measures are taking their toll on hospitality businesses in Manchester (pictured), Liverpool and other parts of England
Wales entered a 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown on Friday, but ministers say they could face another one in the next two months.
Deputy economy minister Lee Waters urged people to brace for a re-run in January or February.
Speaking on BBC Radio Wales’s Sunday Supplement, Mr Waters said: ‘The projections and papers we published on our worse-case scenario projections show it is likely we are going to need another firebreak in January or February.’
He said the first and second lockdowns came too late and cases and deaths are rising again.
‘We are doing our best to flatten the curve. We can’t stop the curve, we can’t stop the virus spreading. Our best hope is to wait for a vaccine to help us bring it under control.’
With Covid-19 hospitalisations rising across the country, 58 per cent of medical staff are concerned about the ability to cope with demand from patients who don’t have the virus
Almost two thirds (65 per cent) said staffing shortages are a concern in the months ahead, while 60 per cent said they are concerned about their personal health and wellbeing.
Officials in Whitehall are said to be considering a fourth tier to the English system.
The measures would see local circuit breakers imposed, while restaurants and non-essential shops could also be closed.
The BMA’s survey also revealed 58 per cent of medics are concerned about the ability to cope with demand from non-Covid patients, and 44 per cent said they were worried about the ability to cope with demand from patients with Covid symptoms.
More than 6,000 medics were questioned as part of the survey and the findings show the ‘enormous scale of the challenges’ facing the NHS into winter, the BMA chairman said.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul 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.’
The BMA said it is 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’.
Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of those questioned said in the two weeks leading up to the mid-October survey they had seen a significant increase in the number of Covid cases and it was higher than the same point in the first wave.
Some 11 per cent 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 had not yet made any progress, while just over a quarter (27 per cent) said they had made some.
Less than six per cent of medics surveyed thought the tiered system would have a significant impact in the fight to reduce Covid-19 infections
Only around a third said they have premises that are currently suitable to adequately separate Covid and non-Covid patients – a statistic the BMA said highlights how difficult it will be to meet an expectation of resuming normal NHS services.
Dr Nagpaul said: ‘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 6,610 doctors in England took part in the survey during the week of October 19.
A majority (70 per cent) said they had not contracted coronavirus.