‘Increase efficiency and capacity!’ UK hospitals abandon two-metre social distancing rules

The move to scrap the coronavirus prevention method is expected to enable the NHS to treat more patients. Measures including requiring all patients to isolate and test before surgery will also be relaxed.

Despite fully vaccinated patients no longer needing to isolate and conduct a PCR test before treatment, lateral flow tests will still be needed.

The preventive social distancing measures have reduced the running of services with hospital chiefs admitting it being similar to one in 10 beds.

The changes have been recommended by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Dr Jenny Harries, the UKHSA chief executive said: “We have reviewed the existing Covid-19 IPC evidence based guidance and made a series of initial pragmatic recommendations on how local providers can start to safely remove some of the interventions that have been in place in elective care specifically for Covid-19.

“This is a first step to help the NHS treat more patients more quickly, while ensuring their safety and balancing their different needs for care.”

The UK Health Security Agency has advised hospitals to continue following current rules on wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “The recommended changes will help to increase efficiency and capacity within healthcare settings and give healthcare leaders and their teams the flexibility they need at a time when everyone is working so hard to increase the numbers of patients that can be safely diagnosed and treated.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said the controls would only be relaxed when “no longer necessary”.

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Mr Javid has said the pandemic has exacerbated non-covid health issues, as people have decided not to go to hospital to not burden staff or the fear of getting infected.

Advice on what measures to relax in GP surgeries, dentists and ambulance trusts are still being decided.

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