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Doctors in Wales say a second Covid peak is very likely this winter

Credit: Matthew Horwood

A survey of doctors by BMA Cymru Wales shows that a second peak of Covid-19 in Wales this winter is the number one concern among the medical profession.

Eighty-six per cent of doctors and medical students who responded said that a second peak was likely or very likely in the next six months.

Doctors say the confusing messages on public health measures, lack of monitoring and adherence to infection control measures in public settings and failure of the test and trace system including poor access to testing sites are the main risks to causing a second peak.

When asked about the impact of measures to help prevent a second peak, doctors said that a fit for purpose test and trace system that is accessible and provides timely results, as well as a coherent, rapid and consistent approach to local outbreaks were the two most important.

They also highlighted the need for clearer public information and more visible messaging on rules and guidelines, including those on mixing with people from outside your household.

Dr David Bailey, BMA Cymru Wales council chair, said:

“The survey results expose the greatest fears of doctors in Wales – fears borne out of their everyday experiences of treating patients with Covid-19 and witnessing the dramatic impact of the virus on the NHS.

“As a profession, and I’m sure as a nation, we do not wish to return to the scenes we saw earlier in the year, where hospitals were full with Covid-19 patients, many people dying every day.

“As local lockdowns come into force in Wales and new measures are introduced to minimise the spread, we must all work together to prevent the virus taking hold in our communities once more. But to do this, Welsh Government must provide clearer public information and more visible messaging on rules and guidelines, and the test and trace system must be sorted once and for all. The public cannot be expected to travel hours from home to get a test.

Dr Bailey continued:

“We know that doctors have struggled to manage Covid-19 cases alongside routine care – waiting lists have rocketed – understandably, as doctors have grappled with the influx of patients affected by the virus.

“Our members have told us they are concerned at the prospect of managing routine care alongside a second peak. With a high proportion of doctors already reporting stress and burnout, the impact a second peak would have on patients and the profession is extremely worrying.

“With cases rising and winter approaching, we are at a critical point in the fight against the virus. It’s in all our interests to ensure our fears do not turn into reality.”