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2 Mar, 2020 18:01

Vote of no confidence: Almost no UK doctors think NHS can handle coronavirus outbreak, survey finds

Vote of no confidence: Almost no UK doctors think NHS can handle coronavirus outbreak, survey finds

Over 99 percent of 1,618 NHS medical staff surveyed by a lobby group felt that, contrary to assurances by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British healthcare system is not prepared to handle a major outbreak of Covid-19.

Numerous reasons were given, but many focused on the pre-existing high demand and dearth of resources within an already-stretched National Healthcare Service (NHS), with many pointing specifically to a lack of intensive care beds – the kind which would be required to treat and effectively quarantine coronavirus patients. 

“The truth is the NHS has already been brought to its knees and many doctors fear that our health system simply won’t cope in the event of an influx of coronavirus patients,”said Dr Rinesh Parmar, head of the Doctors’ Association UK which conducted the survey. 

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Parmar highlighted the almost 10,000 doctor and 43,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS in England alone as major cause for concern, just from a staffing perspective. 

He added that A&E waiting times are already the worst on record, intensive care units are at capacity and even cancer patients are struggling to be seen for surgery. Frontline care like GP offices are also struggling to meet existing demand.  

When asked, “do you feel the NHS is well prepared for coronavirus?” only eight of 1,618 respondents said yes, in stark contrast to assurances made by Johnson when asked about the state of preparedness among the UK’s medical community.

Speaking on Monday after an emergency COBRA meeting about the outbreak, Johnson insisted the UK is "very well prepared" for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, other leading Tory politicians have also failed to reassure the public, with Jacob Rees-Mogg ridiculed on social media for his response when questioned about the government's preparedness. 

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Many UK hospitals are lacking basic medical equipment like suitable face masks. At present, the NHS emergency helpline is still advising people to go to A&E or an urgent care center if they appear to have symptoms of the novel coronavirus – contrary to official advice to avoid centralized healthcare facilities for fear of spreading the contamination. 

So far, there have been 40 cases of coronavirus infection across Great Britain, over 30 of which are in England. One British person died in Japan after contracting the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined for over two weeks. 

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