Health Secretary Steve Barclay has warned that a “real sprint” will be needed to avoid disaster starting to set in by September.
Giving his first interview since taking up the position, Mr Barclay added that decisions such as hiring more staff could not wait until a new Prime Minister enters office early next month.
Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: “We have very real challenges coming down the track in the autumn and winter, and as far as I’m concerned there needs to be a real sprint within Whitehall, and particularly in the Department of Health, to get ready for September.
“Part of my role is to prepare for reasonable worst-case scenarios. Obviously, those pressures can come in different forms.
“It might be you get a bad flu, it may be Covid rates are higher than we would expect or like.
“There’s an urgency of now to prepare, particularly in areas where there’s a long lead time. The decisions need to happen now, not wait until the autumn – by which time those lead times would put the resolution at too late a stage.”
His comments come as civil servants revealed their predictions for long A&E waiting times yet again, as only six out of every ten patients can expect to be seen within four hours.
After Boris Johnson’s resignation there are fears that a “zombie Government”, without any clear leader in place could affect key decisions that need to be made sooner rather than later to avoid a crisis.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak are currently in the running to be the next PM, with the result of the vote expected to be announced September 5.
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The language requirements for working in nursing homes are lower than those for working in hospitals.
Therefore, workers whose English is not as good could still be employed in the social care sector.
There are currently 105,000 vacancies in the social care sector, according to government figures.