06:51PM, Thursday 02 April 2020
The Government is writing off £13.4billion of historic debts for NHS trusts, in order to free them to help during the pandemic without worrying about past finances.
During the daily briefing today (April 2) at 5pm, health secretary Matt Hancock outlined the efforts being made to support the NHS during the crisis.
As well as writing off debt, Mr Hancock announced that the Government has made £300million available for funding community pharmacies.
He addressed shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), vital for preventing transmission of the virus between healthcare staff and patients, outlining efforts to ramp up imports.
Yesterday, 45 million packs of equipment were delivered across health and social care facilities throughout the country, including more than 5million aprons and 6million surgical masks.
Mr Hancock further sought to reassure people surrounding the disquiet around the lack of availability of COVID-19 tests for frontline NHS staff.
“The priority has to be the patients for whom the test, and treatment, could be the difference between life and death,” he said.
However, he added that more tests were being made available, and that the aim is to increase the number of tests from 10,000 a day to 20,000 a day by the end of April.
At the current time, some of the test are unreliable, with one test showing a false negative three out of four times – in other words, misinforming three quarters of people that they do not have the virus, when in fact, they do.
Mr Hancock stressed the danger this posed, and the need to take the time to make sure that the tests being rolled out in greater numbers in the future will be reliable.
He also reported the construction of a new hospital in London, built within nine days and sporting 4,000 beds, ‘equivalent to 10 district general hospitals.’
More such hospitals are to follow, posted in other major UK cities.
“We will strain every sinew to defeat [the virus] once and for all,” said Mr Hancock.
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