Clogged hospitals are putting the rollout of life-saving Covid vaccines in jeopardy, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation has warned.
In the South East of England, it is said that half of all its beds are now occupied by coronavirus patients.
That, it has been suggested, could potentially slow down efforts to get vaccines to people who needed them in the weeks ahead.
Worryingly, also at risk is cancer treatment.
Over 2,000 Covid patients were admitted to UK hospitals on Sunday – and that figure is expected to increase in the build up to Christmas.
Last weekend there were 16,526 patients in England’s hospitals, compared with the peak of 18,974 back in April.
Danny Mortimer, boss of NHS Confederation, warned of massive disruption to non-Covid treatment, the MailOnline report.
That means a potential slowing of the vaccine rollout if help isn’t forthcoming.
He told the publication: “Members are expecting mass cancellations over the next weeks as an inevitable consequence of the rise in infections.
“Particularly in Tier 4 areas, as we enter the New Year there will be massive disruption to non-Covid care.
“In Wales there have been widespread cancellations, and there has been the prioritisation of Covid and cancer work in Kent, Essex and some hospitals in London.
“The volume of Covid patients is back at the levels of April, but the number of non-Covid patients is also much higher.
“Hospital trusts and GPs will need decisive action [from Government] to help control the virus and roll out the vaccination programme.”
Downing Street chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance says the UK are powerless ‘to stop this getting into other places’.
Telling a Downing Street briefing, he warned: “The evidence on this virus is it spreads easily, it’s more transmissible.
“We absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.
“I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it’s likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced. I think it is the case that this will spread more.”