MP questions UK Health Secretary over potential second lockdown and what that could mean for Christmas

The Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, has told Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies that “everyone must play their part” if people across the UK are to have “the sort of Christmas we all yearn for.”

With concern growing that the UK is heading towards a second lockdown, James asked the Health Secretary to respond to those who are worried about the implications of the recent increase in cases when questioning him during last week’s Health and Social Care Select Committee meeting.

James said:

“Many people are concerned about whether we are heading towards a full lockdown again and what it means for Christmas. What would you say to people who are worried about the direction of travel?” 

In his reply the Health Secretary said it is crucial “for all of us to take this very seriously indeed”.

He added: “We have seen in other countries that, if you do not take a second spike seriously, it can lead to very serious problems down the track. I want us, if at all possible, to get to a position where we can all have the sort of Christmas that people yearn for, but that will require everybody to play their part, to follow the social distancing and follow basic hygiene. The “hands, face, space” concept has been developed as an easy way to remember the three single most important things that individual people can do.”

James also questioned Mr Hancock over the provision of routine and elective NHS services, and actions to tackle long Covid syndrome.

He said:

“I was pleased to hear you refer earlier to long Covid syndrome and what you are doing to tackle it. There was a paper in the BMJ recently suggesting that up to 10% of those infected, possibly 60,000 in this country, have the condition. You referred to the long Covid clinics that are being set up. Can you give some idea of the number of those across the country, the level of access to them and how we are going to make sure that professionals, particularly in primary care, are aware of their existence?” 

The Health Secretary said: “This is a project in England. I have had discussions with my colleagues in the devolved nations about it, but it is an area of responsibility that is devolved.

“The short answer is that they are rolling out, and we need to get them rolled out as fast as possible. At the same time we have been communicating with GPs and other primary care professionals with the latest insight into how to support people, but, unfortunately, there isn’t a treatment.”

James highlighted the fact that many in the ME/chronic fatigue syndrome community feel that access to services is not always what it should be, and  expressed hope that the long Covid project might form a template for improved facilities for them too.