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The Telegraph reported that the “confidential” and “official sensitive” documentation was created in 2017 and 2018 and then sent to government advisers.
The reports were obtained by NHS doctor Moora Qureshi who expressed concern over the health service’s preparedness for a pandemic, arguing it was “unprofessional” the NHS plans were not given to medics.
“The Information Commissioner held that clinicians must be supported by a clear framework when allocating care during a severe pandemic, and that the framework needs public debate. The NHS triage paper provides real guidance for frontline staff if NHS services are overwhelmed. Why did the Department of Health, NHS England, and BMA [British Medical Association] keep it secret from healthcare professionals?”, Qureshi told The Telegraph.
An NHS spokesperson responded by stressing that the health service “was asked to produce this discussion document based on a specific and extreme hypothetical scenario to inform the government’s pandemic flu preparedness programme rather than for operational use and it did not form the basis of the NHS response to coronavirus”.
Earlier this year, media reports said the NHS asked care homes to issue “do not resuscitate” orders on all residents during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic in violation of guidelines.
It was preceded by the government reportedly allowing hospital patients to be discharged into care home irrespective of their virus status in April 2020.
Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, for his part, claimed in late May 2021 it was “complete nonsense” to say that the government “put a shield around care homes”. According to him, “the opposite happened” as the NHS “sent people with COVID back to care homes”.
He also asserted that COVID spread “like wildfire” in care homes, a situation that was exacerbated by the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing for care home staff.