Health Campaigners call for an immediate lockdown

Press release on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public – for Immediate use
Health Campaigners call for an immediate lockdown 23 March 2020

National NHS campaigning organisation Keep Our NHS Public, in solidarity with an increasing amount of healthcare staff around the country, is calling on the government to impose an immediate lockdown.

The UK is now in the grip of the most serious public health crisis of our lifetime. The Government has been too slow to understand and prepare for this in failing to use the essential public health measures of rigorous testing, case identification, contact tracing and isolating at risk individuals and communities. We are behind some other countries in terms of spread, however, the UK is exactly mirroring the catastrophic rise in deaths in Italy, with only a 14-day lag.

The Government must impose a state of lockdown immediately in order to halt this escalating emergency, slow the spread of the virus and protect frontline medical staff, the vulnerable, and the whole population. This belatedly will give the NHS, social care, local and national government some more time to make preparations – including finally bringing in the internationally tried and tested public health measures referred to above.

When taking this drastic measure, the Government must also guarantee that there will be a universal protected income to ensure that all, without exclusion, have sufficient financial protection to survive under the lockdown period. Social distancing was an initial attempt to stop the virus spreading. Unfortunately photographs from public spaces (and in particular from London transport this morning) show that many are choosing to ignore this advice, remain confused by the government’s mixed messages, or are unable to stay away from work due to poverty wages or because they fulfil essential jobs.

Many medical staff still do not have adequate personal protective equipment, and there are already reports of front line doctors on ventilators and even the tragic death of one consultant. There is not anywhere near enough testing for the virus and there is a totally inadequate number of contact tracing personnel. As a result, ill or self-isolating frontline healthcare workers can’t return to work promptly or safely and neither is it possible to assess the spread of disease in the community.

The UK is an outlier compared to most other countries in our response to the virus. We therefore believe now is the time to take the next step to full lockdown.

Dr John Puntis, Paediatrician and Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public says:

“If the government imposes a lockdown thousands of lives can be saved, we’ll protect our frontline NHS staff and support the vulnerable. We need to rely at this time of crisis on a free and public NHS and social care for all, no discrimination, no charges, no more delays in vital equipment and no more profiteering in essential public services. It is this spirit that will unite the country against Coronavirus.”

In a statement given to Keep Our NHS Public, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathon Ashworth, in addition to hundreds of public health and NHS frontline staff, has also today called for this to happen:

“Other countries across the world have taken further far reaching social distancing measures. We now call on the government to move to enforced social distancing and greater social protection as a matter of urgency. The Prime Minister must outline further necessary steps the government will now take to keep people safe, protect our NHS and save lives.”

Keep Our NHS Public believe many will welcome this move, especially those on the front line, vulnerable people and those caring for them – their health is being put in danger by those who have not heeded or understood calls so far made to behave responsibly. We call on the Government to announce a lockdown now, accompanied by the necessary protection of universally guaranteed income and appropriate community support.

Spokespeople are available for broadcast interview. Contact Samantha Wathen Press Officer for Keep Our NHS Public [email protected]
or call 07776047472