DAUK in the Daily Mail: Secondary school re-opening ‘WILL be delayed by at least an extra week but primaries will open on schedule’ amid fears of coronavirus spike caused by mutant strain that can spread more easily among children

As a doctor who volunteered for the Nightingale I can’t tell you how much effort went into it. But ICU staff are wafer thin on the ground.

We had warned of a staffing crisis in ICU before the pandemic. The Government’s didn’t listen.

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, DAUK President

Boris Johnson will delay the opening of all England’s secondary schools for at least another week after pressure from SAGE scientists, ministers, teachers and unions to keep all students at home throughout January, it emerged today.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce the new extended schools lockdown after being accused of ‘dithering’ on the eve of the new term – but primary schools will be told to open as usual on Monday.

Pupils studying for GCSEs and A-levels in Years 11 and 13 will now not go back to school on January 4 as agreed, and will have to wait until at least January 11 – and can only return after receiving a negative Covid test, according to the TES

The remaining students would then be due back from January 18 at the earliest – but with no mass testing in schools yet and plans to use 1,500 Army personnel to support up to 32,000 UK schools branded ‘ludicrous’ by headteachers there are growing concerns that millions of children will be condemned to ‘sub-standard’ online classes until well into February.  

It came as a senior Tory today demanded Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance publish the data being used to pressure Boris Johnson into shutting schools until February amid warnings a third national lockdown would spark an ‘epidemic of educational poverty’ in Britain.

The Government is ‘still planning for a staggered opening of schools’ after Christmas but is keeping the plan under constant review, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: ‘We’re still planning for a staggered opening of schools and we are working to ensure testing is in place.

NHS England data shows 20,426 beds were occupied by patients who had tested positive for coronavirus as of 8am on Monday, up from 17,700 a week ago and above the 18,974 recorded on April 12.

Intensive care doctors today accused ministers of ignoring warnings they were already ‘wafer thin’ on the ground before splurging hundreds of millions on the units that have stood empty for months.

Nightingales were hailed as a ‘solution’ to the Covid-19 crisis when they were opened to much fan-fare during the first months of the pandemic to ‘buffer’ over-whelmed hospitals. But many have stood empty for months. 

Only 57 Covid-19 patients were admitted to NHS Nightingale London after it was opened by Prince Charles in April, Department of Health figures reveal.

At the peak it had 33 patients on ventilators on April 19, before it was shuttered on May 15.

NHS Nightingale Birmingham opened by Prince William has treated 11 Covid-19 patients since it opened, despite having capacity for 500.

And Sunderland’s – which was opened by the Countess of Wessex and TV stars Ant and Deck – is yet to treat any Covid-19 patients. It has 460 beds with ventilators.

The hospitals have also taken non-Covid patients, to help take the strain off critical care services.

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, an intensive care medic president of the Doctors’ Association UK, has accused ministers of failing to listen to NHS staff who said there were not enough of them available to run the hospitals.

‘As a doctor who volunteered for the Nightingale I can’t tell you how much effort went into it,’ she tweeted. ‘But ICU staff are wafer thin on the ground.’

‘We had warned of a staffing crisis in ICU before the pandemic. The Government’s didn’t listen.’

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