Independent SAGE calls on Boris to Implement Plan B as scientists warn “NHS Pressures are unstainable”

Independent SAGE has today warned that “the NHS is not sustainable with current pressures”, as continuing very high levels of Covid19 are contributing to the extreme pressure the NHS is facing with backlogs hitting a record high this week.

“Plan B” must be activated now, scientists say, including working from home and mandated facemasks.

Scientists are urging the government to adopt a “Vaccine Plus” approach – and to “lead by example” after a new Independent SAGE behavioural report published today says the government “has produced confused and mixed messages (and) failed to set a good example” after pictures emerged of Boris Johnson failing to wear a mask when attending COP26 or when visiting a hospital where vulnerable patients were present.

The new report urges immediate use of behavioural mitigations and other protective measures and the group issued a statement saying:

“The Government needs to urgently bring in Plan B. This is according to their own Winter Plan. The pressure on the NHS is extreme and increasing. The backlog of treatment is at a record high. It needs to act now. Most importantly, working from home where possible and mandated facemasks in indoor spaces are needed.

We also believe additional protective measures should be brought in, including ensuring good ventilation in schools and other public spaces and financial support for self-isolation.”

Professor Susan Michie said:

“To save the NHS and Christmas, the Government needs to enable behaviours to get our high transmission rates down. The PM walking mask less round a hospital with vulnerable patients undermines that effort.

Enabling behaviour change is everyone’s responsibility especially those in positions of authority and influence. The PM walking mask less round a hospital with vulnerable patients undermines the behaviours needed to keep us all safe.”

Independent SAGE will host a live streamed briefing today at 1:30pm. The briefing will include a presentation by Professor Emeritus Robert West on the latest report on behavioural mitigations, followed by a Q&A session with guests on the subject, coordinated by Prof. West and Prof. Susan Michie. We would then take questions from the press and public.

Guests include:

  • Ashley Gould, Programme Director, Behavioural Science Unit, Welsh Government

  • Prof Molly Byrne, Professor of Health Psychology and Covid19 Advisor to the Irish Government

  • Prof Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health, University of Edinburgh and advisor to the Scottish Government on Covid-19

The briefing will be live streamed on YouTube.