4th November 2020

We can’t have our local NHS overwhelmed by Covid: why I’ll support the PM on a November Covid circuit break. The decision to impose another lockdown is not one to be taken lightly. I deeply share constituents concerns about the enormous social and economic damage of another lockdown: locally and nationally. Having sat down with Norfolk health leaders yesterday and studied the data in detail, it’s now clear though that this disease is on an autumn surge which threatens to overwhelm our NHS at its busiest time of the year, when it is also clearing a backlog of patients and operations from this spring. If we don’t act we risk the NHS being overwhelmed (sometime in December) and a massively damaging later and longer lockdown with all the economic and social misery that means.

(By 8th November, the number of patients in East of England beds with Covid is expected to exceed the number in beds at the start of the March 2020 lockdown. Of course, the situation is worsened by the additional increase in hospital admissions that typically occurs during the winter period. In Norfolk, the number of patients in hospital with Covid roughly doubled last week in comparison to the week before. Full details will be released by the NHS in the coming days)

We HAVE to act. So, after reviewing local data, I’ll vote for the 4 week circuit-breaker today.

BUT. With some important provisos to ensure that the cure isn’t worse than the disease:

· There is proper support for the freelance/self-employed

· There is a proper review on December 2 with another democratic vote

· Norfolk returns ASAP to LOCAL control

· With a clear framework for BALANCING the cost of Covid with the cost of lockdown

As you may have seen in the local media (my interview on BBC Radio Norfolk Breakfast today can be found: here), I have made clear that the Government MUST ensure a balance between the hardships caused by the disease and those caused by bankruptcy and economic hardship.

The best way to do that is by LOCAL LEADERSHIP: our local Norfolk Councils, NHS, public health and social care workers did an outstanding job this spring protecting the most vulnerable. No one is better equipped to make these difficult decisions than our local agencies and elected local councillors, accountable to local residents.

In the end there are no easy decisions. But we must get the balance right. Rest assured I will continue to speak for our area and work flat out to make sure your concerns are raised and heard at the highest levels and that Ministers make the commitments we need. To see the latest and most up to date Covid-19 guidelines and information, please visit the Government website page below: Government Guidance – New National Restrictions from 5 November: