Government pledges to do 'everything we can' to help Yorkshire fight coronavirus

Every inch of available space in Yorkshire’s hospitals will be used to fight the coronavirus, it has been promised, as the Health Secretary assured the region the NHS would have everything it needed to fight the disease.

By Geraldine Scott
Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 8:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 8:48 pm

Leading the daily briefing in Downing Street tonight Matt Hancock, who has just come out of isolation after recovering from coronavirus symptoms, said lessons had been learned from the response to the disease in London, which would now be used elsewhere in the country.

Responding to a question from The Yorkshire Post Mr Hancock said: “The first thing I’d say is that building the extra capacity is incredibly important. I’m so proud of the people who built the Nightingale Hospital in nine days, and the role of the Gurkhas, the military and the NHS, all working together to make that happen.

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A woman looks at a mural of an NHS worker outside a pub in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“And we are rolling that out to Birmingham and Manchester and to Glasgow as I said, but we don’t rule out putting temporary hospitals in other parts of the country.”

National Medical Director at NHS England Stephen Powis said the key was finding beds for the sickest patents.

He said: “The strategy in London, of beds for patients who require ventilation, so the most sophisticated of treatment for the people who are the sickest, has been to firstly to reduce elective surgery, so that means freeing up some of the beds that would be otherwise used, so where that surgery can be delayed a bit.

“Secondly, by expanding into other areas of the hospital where we can ventilate patients, theatre areas, recovery areas, those are areas where ventilator machines are used as part of routine practice around surgery where the oxygen supplies are all established, where the monitoring is established.

10 Downing Street handout photo of Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Pic: PA

“And then beyond that, using the independent sector.”

He said that has meant the country was able to “stay ahead of the curve” of coronavirus.

He added: “Colleagues around the country are talking to colleagues in London so that we can rapidly translate the knowledge that we have from London out to other centres.”

Mr Hancock added: “We will do everything we can to help Yorkshire prepare and help Yorkshire’s NHS prepare.

“And the best thing that everybody across Yorkshire can do is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

But he said the Government had listened to criticisms of its approach to tackling the virus.

He said: “I’ve been quite candid in the past about the point that we take ideas from everywhere and my approach to tackling this as Health Secretary is to listen to all complaints and to work out what we can do better and whether people have got a point.

“One example is the Labour Party said that we needed to do more in terms of some of the financial measures and then we took those steps.

“So this has been an effort in which we have listened and made sure that we are always looking at complaints and criticisms to find out how we can do better because all that matters is defeating this virus and getting to the country through it as well as possible.

“That is the thing that everybody is crying out for and, as I say, we are in a war in which the whole of humanity is on one side which means that we should come together as much as possible in order to fix it.”