In Brief

Coronavirus: ventilator shortage ‘due to decade of NHS underfunding’

Health Secretary suggests UK manufacturers switch to making respirators to combat shortfall

An emergency manufacture of respirators will be necessary to treat those who become acutely ill with coronavirus, the government has admitted.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that the NHS currently has an estimated 5,000 ventilators, but added that it will need “many times more than that” to deal with the influx of patients expected to suffer from the coronavirus.

He refused to promise that everyone who needs a ventilator will have access to one, instead saying: “We don't make guarantees in healthcare.”

The chairperson of the British Medical Association, Chaand Nagpaul, blamed the UK’s lack of ventilators when compared to other countries on “a decade of under-funding”.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Nagpaul said: “And now what... we need to do, is make some really decisive decisions on how that limited resource is used in the best possible way for those who are going to need it.

“That may require, and it should require actually, some major decisions on ceasing non-urgent routine care, a mass move towards many more consultations occurring remotely.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Meanwhile, people over the age of 70 are set to be told by Boris Johnson’s government to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months, in a move expected to be enforced “within the coming weeks”.

According to ITV News, the move is a part of a series of measures being prepared to prevent the health service from “falling over” in the coming weeks and months.

Others steps include the forced requisitioning of hotels and other buildings as temporary hospitals, the takeover of private hospitals and the temporary closure of pubs, bars and restaurants.

“The measures that we’re looking at taking are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus,” said Hancock.

Speaking to Sky News, he added that asking older people and the vulnerable to self-isolate for a long period of time would “clearly not an easy thing for people to do”, noting that it is “not an easy thing for people to sustain”.

Revealing the plan to ask over 70s to self-isolate, ITV political editor Robert Peston wrote that “what keeps ministers and officials awake at night” is the fear that the epidemic could overwhelm the NHS. This, Peston added, could lead to ministers having to make “appalling decisions, such as that the NHS would stop treating people over a certain age, such as 65”.

Recommended

Covid-19: everything you need to know about coronavirus
coronavirus.jpg
Coronavirus

Covid-19: everything you need to know about coronavirus

‘F@@@@@g cheek’: Gary Neville hits back at Matt Hancock
Former Man Utd star Gary Neville is now a pundit for Sky Sports
In Brief

‘F@@@@@g cheek’: Gary Neville hits back at Matt Hancock

Indian Wells tennis cancelled - is Wimbledon in danger?
Novak Djokovic kisses the winner’s trophy after beating Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final
In Brief

Indian Wells tennis cancelled - is Wimbledon in danger?

Coronavirus impact on sport: ‘serious concerns’ for Olympics
Officials at the Japan Coast Guard base in Yokohama where a cruise ship is in quarantine following an outbreak of coronavirus
In Brief

Coronavirus impact on sport: ‘serious concerns’ for Olympics

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 Jan 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 Jan 2021

Who are the richest people in the world?
Elon Musk
In Focus

Who are the richest people in the world?

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Free 6 issue trial then continue to