Families should be able to check the Coronavirus transmission rate in their local area in the same way as checking the pollen count, the Chair of the British Medical Association has said.
And the head of the NHS Confederation urged the government to develop an “Amazon-like” system for staff to order PPE and have it arrive the next day.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP and chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) said “transparent, readily available” information about the spread of the virus would be key to suppressing a second wave of the virus.
He said: “If people know that in their area that the infection is rising, and it’s available to them in a very visible way, it’s more likely to result in local communities taking extra precautions and being more careful, and maybe thinking twice before leaving home if they don’t need to.”
Dr Nagpaul also called for the government to be honest and transparent about information about the supply of PPE to medical professionals, warning the volume needed to cope with a second wave of Covid-19 would likely be greater than for the first wave.
He said: “You’ll have large volumes of patients with respiratory illnesses during the winter months which will mimic Covid, and they’ll have flu.”
Government should not just provide “arbitrary figures of billions of units of PPE,” he said – but a fully modelled estimate of how much each hospital uses in a day and what supplies were available to them.
Dr Nagpaul was giving evidence to the first session of the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus, chaired by Lib Dem leadership contender Layla Moran.
The group has launched a ‘rapid inquiry’ into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and intend to prepare a report setting out lessons which can be learned in advance of a second spike in infections.
Speaking in the same session, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said the distribution system in place for PPE at the start of the pandemic wasn’t fit for purpose.
He said: “Whatever was planned at the beginning, the system we had – NHS supply chain or whatever its name was – was basically an operation from a warehouse with vast supplies of PPE, which thought that it had 240 customers, which meant putting large pallets on the backs of lorries and sending them out.
“Within two days, they actually found that they didn’t have 250 customers, they had 35,000 or so customers, including community services, primary care and of course elements of social care which absolutely needed that support.”
He said the system “very quickly fell over” adding bringing in the army to remedy the situation was “absolutely the right thing to do.”
He said going forward every part of the health and care system should be able to order PPE directly from an “Amazon-like” system, and see it arrive the next day.
“That has to be our ambition,” he added.
Ahead of the session, Ms Moran said: “This swift review will ensure that lessons are urgently learned ahead of a potential second spike.
“The stark warning that a second wave of coronavirus this winter could cause up to 120,000 deaths shows we have no time to waste.”