A DOCTOR from Hagley who works on the Coronavirus frontline believes the Government’s approach to lifting the Covid lockdown restrictions is the right one but has reservations about all schools fully reopening together on March 8.
Dr David Nicholl said it would have been better to bring back primary schools first – as there was less of a risk of younger children contracting virus – and then phasing in secondary schools later.
Another element Dr Nicholl is concerned about is the Track, Trace, Isolate, Support scheme.
He said: “If people need to isolate but cannot afford to do so, they are supposed to get £500 grants to help them financially.
“But I have spoken to a number of people, including some in Bromsgrove, who had to get by after not receiving the payment.
“People are literally petrified if they have to isolate, as they wont be able to afford the rent.
“This has to change or people may take risks and not self-isolate when they are supposed to.
“We want to supress this virus and get it as low as we can ahead of next winter but that can only be done with the right support for people.”
He said he also had no confidence in the effectiveness of Test, Track and Trace and he reiterated his previous criticism of the Government to spend £2.75million-a-day on external consultants to run the system when, in his opinion, the health service could have done it better.
“The vaccination programme shows what the NHS can achieve – there was no need to tender it out.
“It is the most expensive system in the world and did not need to be.”
Dr Nicholl said the vaccination roll-out had been phenomenal and had made a massive difference, especially with the latest data showing it reduced the transmission of the virus as well as offering protection.
But, he added, there were still areas where the take-up of the jab had not been as good.
It has been well-documented that there is still a lot of scepticism among black and ethnic minority communities about the vaccine and the take-up rates in areas with large BAME communities has been much lower.
Dr Nicholl said while a lot more was known about Covid-19 and there were plenty of other treatments available, as well as ventilation, the danger of the NHS being overwhelmed was still there if rates increased again.
During the height of the second wave, patients from where Dr Nicholl worked in Birmingham had to be transported miles for hospital spaces – including to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Hull because the ITU was running at 200 per cent capacity.
Like many other places, Birmingham hospitals had to covert other wards and operating theatres into ITUs to accommodate all the patients.
He added: “People are saying ‘The NHS coped’ and yes it did, but only because everyone bust a gut and pulled out all the stops.
“We don’t want to go back to where we were.”
Dr Nicholl said he had some sympathy with the Government as choosing a pathway out of lockdown was much harder than locking down in the first place.
“Making the decisions on how things are going to reopen is much trickier.
“It’s much tougher on the way down than it is on the way up.”
Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his four-stage road map out of lockdown, staggering the reopening of different sectors.
Click here to read more on the PM’s announcement, including the dates of the four stages and what is opening when.
at 8pm this Thursday (February 25), Dr David Nicholl and University of Birmingham’s Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection and Bromsgrove resident Prof Willem van Schaik, will host their third ‘Politics and Pandemics – What happens next?’ on Zoom.
It is free to view and take part in and will provide the latest on the pandemic as well as questions, answers and debate on the issues surrounding Covid-19.
Click here for more information and to register for the virtual event.