Brits more worried than before that NHS cannot cope with Covid

British public more worried than ever before that the NHS cannot cope with Covid pandemic amid soaring death toll and admissions

  • Some 60 per cent of the public are confident the health service can cope
  • But that figure is down 12 points from November amid media campaigns
  • Threat to NHS hammered home in bid to make people stay at home in lockdown

Political efforts to hammer home the threat to the NHS causes by the deadly new wave of coronavirus appear to be working, a new poll suggests today.

Confidence in the NHS’s ability to cope with the worst ravages of the pandemic has fallen to its lowest level since it began last March, Ipsos MORI found. 

While 60 per cent of the public are still very or fairly confident the health service can deal with the additional pressure, that figure is down 12 points from November.

Some 35 per cent of the 1,065 people surveyed online were not confident the NHS could cope, up 11 points over the same period.

It comes in the third week of the latest lockdown, which has seen ministers and medics hammer home the threat to the NHS in a bid to make people stay at home as much as possible. 

Ben Page, the chief executive of Ipsos MORI, said: ‘Public confidence in the NHS has fallen to its lowest point in the Pandemic, driven by media coverage of hospitals under pressure. 

‘In one sense this may be helpful in encouraging the public to maintain social distancing, but the challenge will be rebuilding it after the pandemic when waiting lists will likely be at record levels.’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was bullish about the September target for covering all adults in a round of interviews this morning

However, crucually, the poll was conducted Between January 8 and 11, before good news about the UK’s vaccine efforts began to break.

This morning a senior minister suggested the brutal lockdown is on track to be loosened in England from the beginning of March amid rising hopes that target of vaccinating all adults by September could be beaten by months.

Another five million people will be invited to receive a jab from today, with some in Whitehall suggesting the rollout is going so well that the wider population could be covered by June rather than September.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was bullish about the longer date in a round of interviews this morning – and he also struck an optimistic tone about the prospects of easing lockdown from early March.

He said the restrictions could be taken away ‘gradually’ from ‘two to three weeks after the middle of February, after we’ve protected the top four cohorts’.

Mr Zahawi also insisted that second doses of vaccines will be given within 12 weeks of the first – after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to confirm yesterday that would be the case.

The comments came as letters started going out to people in England in the next two priority groups.

That includes 4.6million in their 70s plus another one million classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ because they have conditions affecting the immune system, certain cancers or are organ transplant recipients.

However, there are concerns about a postcode lottery for access, as when people get called will depend on local progress vaccinating the first categories, which varies widely across the country.

Cabinet minister Therese Coffey complained this morning that in her constituency some individuals in their 70s were being offered jabs ahead of the more elderly.

‘Vaccinations started well in Suffolk Coastal in the last few days, but something isn’t quite right as in some places, patients aged 70+ are being contacted for vaccination ahead of 80+/90+ year olds,’ she tweeted. ‘Am following up with local NHS.’

In London vaccinations have been trailing behind the rest of the country, with Tory MPs voicing alarm that the supplies were being based on take-up of the flu vaccine last winter.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that the nation was ‘nearly on the home straight’ as 50 per cent of all over-80s in England have been vaccinated.

Some 140 a minute are receiving a jab, putting Britain on course to vaccinate all adults by early autumn. However, one coronavirus patient is being admitted to hospital every 30 seconds.

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