The UK Health Secretary has said the authorities are looking at plans to relieve pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), including the possibility of moving recovering Covid patients to hotels with medical supervision.
Speaking on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “impossible to know” when lockdown measures might end, as the NHS is reaching breaking point, with more than 35,000 coronavirus patients currently in hospitals across the UK.
Asked about reports that the NHS was looking to move recovering patients to hotels, Hancock said the government would “look at all options”, but confirmed the proposal was being considered.
“In some cases, people need step-down care – they don’t actually need to be in a hospital bed,” he said.
“We work very closely with the social care sector to make sure that capacity is available. But we look at all options.”
“So, this isn’t a concrete proposal by any means, but it’s something we look at, because we look at all contingencies.”
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Amid reports that hospitals, particularly around the capital, are running low on beds and key supplies such as oxygen, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the pressure on the health service will continue to rise in the coming weeks unless “we take evasive action”, and warned of a “significant crisis for the NHS.”
National media reported on Tuesday evening that the NHS would be partnering with a hotel group to expand capacity for recovering patients.
A spokesperson from London Hotel Group told the Guardian that: “The patient group the NHS is seeking to accommodate at this stage are recovered or recovering from Covid, and medically fit for discharge, and thus do not require specialist medical supervision or specialist care but can’t yet return home.”
The hotel group said it could provide 1,500 beds in London and 5,000 around the country.
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