The Sheffield branch of the Save Our NHS campaign group has demanded that the Government ‘do more’ to protect people than ‘rely’ on the vaccination roll-out, and warned that failure to do so could leave the NHS dangerously under pressure.
This comes as the infection rate in Sheffield continues to remain high, at 320.9 new cases per 100,000 of the population for the seven days to November 16.
This is lower than it was the month before: it stood at 419.0 on October 16. However, the upcoming cold weather, the arrival of winter and the addition of influenza and other respiratory viruses mean that the dangers of Covid-19 remain high and cases are expected to rise.
Mick Suter, speaking on behalf of Sheffield Save Our NHS, said: “The Government must act now to prevent another Christmas lockdown this year.
“Boris Johnson’s press conference last Monday showed that the Government continues to rely solely on the vaccination rollout to combat Covid in England. This is a dangerous strategy, particularly in this city since the Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group revealed at their November meeting that we are facing a shortage of vaccines over the coming weeks.”
SSONHS has said that alongside a ‘ramping up’ of the vaccination programme, it wants to see better ventilation of public buildings, and financial support for those self isolating.
“We do not accept the notion that ‘it’s all over’ and people should get back to normal,” Mr Suter added.
“Nor do we accept that responsibility should fall solely on the individual – the Government must act through restoring some of the previous legal measures and by setting a lead in mask-wearing and social distancing.
“At our last meeting, we heard from members working in the health services and from patients how all parts of the NHS and Social Care services are in crisis.
"Every sector from hospitals, waiting lists, ambulance services, mental health services, GP practices and all of social care are faced with too few exhausted staff, low morale, inadequate pay, unrewarded effort and a lack of respect from the Government. Keeping Covid-19 infections to a minimum would greatly help the NHS.
"Lockdown should be the absolute last resort and we call on the Government to listen to its scientific and medical advisors and institute measures which will mitigate infection and avoid a Christmas lockdown.”
Last month, Sheffield’s public health director Greg Fell said that it is essential people are still as careful about Covid-19 as they were this time last year, if we are to avoid more stringent anti-Covid measures such as lockdowns needing to be put into place.
Mr Fell said: “The tune has not changed. Get vaccinated if you have not. Wear a mask indoors if you can.
"If you have symtoms that you think might be Covid, get a PCR test and act appropriately on the result of that test.
"And be careful about mixing with vulnerable people.”
He added: “One year ago we would have been in full lockdown with this infection rate and these figures.
“The vaccine programme is the thing that made all the difference."