Europe

Michael Gove confirms first thousand ventilators to be given to NHS within DAYS

Speaking at the Government’s daily coronavirus press briefing Michael Gove confirmed thousands of new ventilator devices would be made available to the NHS next week. He said: “More NHS staff are returning to the front line. And more testing is taking place to help those isolating come back to work.”

Of the NHS’s ventilator capacity he added: “I can announce that this weekend the first of thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week.

“From there, they will be rapidly distributed to the frontline.”

Mr Gove said the UK was buying ventilators from EU nations.

He said: “We have just over 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals now.

“This number has increased since the epidemic began thanks to the hard work of NHS professionals, but we need more.

“That’s why we are buying more ventilators from abroad, including from EU nations.

“It’s also why we are developing new sources of supply at home.”

He added “we must go further, faster” to increase the ability to carry out coronavirus tests.

The Cabinet Minister said despite signs the rate of infection is being flattened “now is absolutely not the time for people to imagine there can be any relaxation or slackening” of lockdown measures.

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Asked about testing for NHS staff, Mr Gove said: “We are increasing the number of tests.

“One of the constraints on our capacity to increase testing overall is supply of the specific reagents, the specific chemicals, that are needed in order to make sure that tests are reliable.”

Speaking after Mr Gove, the medical director of NHS England Professor Stephen Powis said there is evidence the public was heeding the message on the need to maintain social distancing.

He said there was a “bit of a plateau” in the number of new cases of people testing positive for COVID-19.

“It is really important not to read too much because it is really early days. We are not out of the woods, we are very much in the woods,” he told the No 10 press conference.

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“So green shoots but only green shoots and we must not be complacent and we must not take our foot off the pedal.”

He said that if the number of infections started to drop, then in the next few weeks the “hope” was that the number of hospitalisations would also begin to fall.

On end of life care, Mr Powis said: “I would expect end of life care to be just as good as it is in normal times and I know that’s something that our clinicians and hospitals and other health care facilities are thinking about very carefully.

“Clearly with the additional impact of this particular virus we do need to think carefully about when people are discharged from hospital if they have had the COVID, and so we have issued specific guidance to assist in that discharge, for instance, if discharging into care homes.

“So we have taken account of the fact that over and above our normal procedures we need to take account that we have a new infectious disease.”

On whether we should be more confident about how coronavirus is progressing in the UK, Mr Powis added: “So I honestly think it’s too early to tell at the moment and I very specifically used the term because they are just green shoots, and winter could come and those green shoots could turn out to be not the hopeful green shoots that they thought they might be.

“But I think the next week or two will be critical as we move through.”

He added: “So, I think the next week or two are going to be critical, but this is the start of the battle, we can stop this virus but we’re at the start, and we mustn’t let go of the measures and let go of everything that we’re doing.

“You have to keep your foot on the pedal as I said, no complacency. I want to encourage the public that they are playing their part but I don’t want to give the message that we need to do anything other than maintaining our compliance with the instructions – everybody needs to do that.

“Because that is the only way, that is the only way, that we will get through this.”

Mr Gove said the NHS has “formidable resources and advantages” in responding to coronavirus.

He said: “We learn from other countries, we collaborate with other countries and I think it’s certainly the case that different countries with different health care systems have approached dealing with the virus in overlapping, complementary ways.

“I think that one of the things I would say, just observing it, is that the NHS has formidable resources and advantages.

“The dedication of our staff, the fact that we can stand up a new hospital like NHS Nightingale so quickly, and the quality of the data and the scientific input that I see when I observe the work of dedicated NHS professionals and scientists.

“I’m in awe of it so I think that we should be, all of us, grateful that we have the NHS and that we have the academic excellence that underpins it but of course we can and are learning from other nations in their approach to dealing with the virus.”

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