Wales should come out of the lockdown at a different rate to England, one of Wales’ leading medical specialists has said.
Professor Judith Hall, a Cardiff-based consultant anaesthetist, said that the circumstances in Wales were sufficiently unique to need to require a different lockdown timetable to England.
“I don’t think we should act at the same rate as England,” she told the BBC.
“We’ve a different population, we’re older and more rural in general, so I think we should make our own decisions.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford had yesterday called for a “common timetable” agreed between the UK’s four nations for the best way of coming out of the lockdown.
A “four-nation approach” was still the best way to ease the Covid-19 lockdown, he said.
However, Professor Judith Hall said an easing of lockdown restrictions should be done “cautiously”.
“We need to extraordinarily cautious because we really do not yet know enough about this virus – and we’re a long way off beating it,” she said.
“Just because the infection rate and the number of patients being admitted to intensive care are starting to come down, I think we can become far too complacent.”
Today the Welsh Government announced that 21,000 more high-risk patients will receive letters from the Chief Medical Officer advising them to shield.
The majority of these patients had been identified as a result of updated searches of our secondary care systems, they said.
The Chief Medical Officer also recently agreed that all those on kidney dialysis should be advised to shield.
“Updated searches of our primary care system are still being conducted centrally and may identify further patients,” Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said.
“We anticipate this process will be completed this week and any further patients identified will also receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer.
“The list of high-risk conditions is under constant review and we are following the latest scientific and medical advice to ensure we have identified and contacted everyone who needs to be shielding.
“Given the severe nature of the measures those who are shielding must take – self-isolation for 12 weeks which includes reducing all non-essential contact with other household members – it is important only those are classed as high risk are added to it.
“In line with the initial 12-week shielding advice issued in late March, the latest letters advise people to shield until at least 15 June 2020.
“GPs will be provided with an updated list of their patients who have been identified centrally and will remain able to identify and add further patients. This will include English-border GP practices with Welsh resident patients. Secondary Care Clinicians/Specialists will be provided with the updated Welsh Shielded Patient List and will also now be able to identify and add further patients.
“Local authorities and the major food retailers will receive the updated Welsh Shielded Patient List at the same time so that the additional people identified can access the support being provided.”
Meanwhile the Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Social Care – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has today urged the Welsh Government to provide better mental health support to social care workers who may lose residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Written Assembly Question to the Minister for Health and Social Care, Vaughan Gething MS, Mrs Finch-Saunders asked:
“What steps is the Minister taking to promote counselling sessions or access to advice networks for social care workers who have lost residents to COVID-19?”
Speaking on the subject, Janet Finch-Saunders said she had been struck by the great emotional toll that the COVID-19 pandemic was having on carers.
“The care home setting is a special workplace where many genuine and lasting relationships are forged,” she said. “Often, staff care for their residents as they were family.
“Given the tragic level of deaths occurring in our care homes, the Welsh Government must do more to protect the emotional and mental well-being of our social care staff. The risk that the current situation will overwhelm our carers, leading to mental burnout, remains far too high.
“Continued communication is paramount. By providing social care workers with access to counselling or advice networks, we can ensure that our valiant front-line staff feel adequately supported through this most challenging of periods.”