Matt Hancock on whether the NHS is prepared for the coronavirus
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was also on the show to answer tough questions on why Britain wasn’t already in lockdown and whether the NHS could cope.
On NHS staff having the right equipment, he said: “You are right Piers, this is incredibly important. Our NHS staff and staff in social care are going in to work to care for people and they have got to have the equipment they need. So, over the weekend I have made sure there is a shipment to each hospital of the protective equipment, the masks first and foremost. To make sure that people get that kit and we have brought in the army to make sure that distributions work.”
Pressed on whether the NHS are ill-prepared to deal with the crisis, he said: “That’s not the case and I think you know it.”
He continued: “Getting the masks, getting the protective equipment to the front line is mission critical and it’s what I’ve been working on all weekend. As I’ve said, we have distribution going out right now, we have brought the army in. The reason there has been a sharp increase in the need is of course suddenly there are many more cases of coronavirus. We have of course distributed this material before and we have been planning this for several weeks.”
Mr Hancock added: “What I have to do is make sure we get that equipment to the front line… The other thing I’m doing is making sure there is a call hotline, so if you are on the frontline and you don’t have access to it, you can get on to us and we can get it out straight away. Of course we knew there was going to be an increase but getting the distribution of this huge quantity of this equipment right across the NHS is a very significant challenge. Thankfully, over the weekend we have distributed millions of masks…we are constantly on this. The point is this, if you ask people to go out and look after others and care for others, then we have got to make sure they have the equipment to keep themselves safe.”
Asked about why there was still no proper lockdown in the country, he said: “I share your frustration Piers and over the weekend I signed new laws to allow police to enforce the bans on pubs and clubs and restaurants. And, as we have seen, the number of people not following advice, is incredibly damaging to the effort to stop the spread of the virus.”
He went on: “The strategy has been the same all along, which is to protect life and to make sure that we stop the spread of this virus…”