Chris Whitty Tells Medical Staff They Can Break NHS Rules To Save Lives This Winter

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Chris Whitty

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has effectively told medical staff that they can break NHS rules this winter in order to save lives.

This is the same Chris Whitty who in 2020 warned Britons not to hug their elderly relatives at Christmas and who last year claimed it could be “a number of years” before a ‘variant-busting’ jab was developed that would allow all covid restrictions to be lifted for good.

This year he claims that the effects of hospital backlogs, nursing strikes along with Covid and flu, are expected to be so great that doctors and nurses have been given official permission to scale back on “established rules to care for people” if necessary to keep the health service going.

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MSN reports: In a sobering letter to NHS staff, the UK’s four chief medical officers, the medical director of NHS England, and the head of the General Medical Council say that this year’s winter pressures will be “significant and potentially prolonged” and could be made even worse by staff sickness or other absence.

The letter reassures doctors and nurses that any complaints as a result of departing from these “established procedures” will be seen in the context of “local realities and the need at times to adapt practice at times of significantly increased national pressure”, meaning they may not face disciplinary action from their regulatory body if they make mistakes.

While NHS England said that such letters were sent annually to NHS staff ahead of winter, and at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS chiefs have warned that this year will be particularly difficult for hospitals as they grapple with a likely wave of Covid-19 cases, a rise in admissions due to flu, an already under-pressure A&E service and a threatened nurses strike.

Backlogs caused by the pandemic have been made worse because a crisis in social care beds means that hospitals cannot discharge elderly patients into care homes or the community.