Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now
Get our daily coronavirus email newsletter with all the news you need to know direct to your inbox
Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid Email
Hospital patients face being moved into hotels to make more room for a wave of seriously ill Covid sufferers, Matt Hancock has admitted.
The Health Secretary said there are “huge pressures on the NHS” as health chiefs predict they will only reach the peak of the virus next month.
That would mount unprecedented pressure on the nation’s hospitals, which are already caring for 35,075 Covid patients – 14,000 more than the first peak.
Mr Hancock said the NHS is considering plans to move some patients into hotels to ease pressure on hospitals.
Mr Hancock told Sky News: "There are huge pressures on the NHS and we are looking to all different ways that we can relieve those pressures.
A nurse works on a patient in the ICU (file photo)
Shop workers, teachers and police 'may get priority' in second vaccine wave
All over-50s set to be offered coronavirus vaccination by end of April, NHS says
"We would only ever do that if it was clinically the right thing for somebody. In some cases, people need sit-down care, they don't actually need to be in hospital bed.
"It isn't a concrete proposal by any means but it is something that we look at as we look at all contingencies."
It comes after the Guardian revealed a plan for hotels to take "thousands" of less seriously ill patients discharged from hospitals.
The London Hotel Group (LHG) told the newspaper it had already started housing homeless patients from King's College Hospital in south London.
It is in talks with 20 other NHS trusts and says it could provide 5,000 beds, the newspaper reported.
People in hotels – as well as their own homes – would get help from groups like St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross, as well as armed forces medical personnel.
The Guardian also reported the NHS is asking care homes to start accepting symptomless Covid patients directly from hospitals – after 14 days' isolation, but not a recent negative test.
That is despite widespread concerns the virus was seeded into care homes in the first wave by patients discharged from hospital.
Matt Hancock confirmed the plan
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Asked if the NHS could end up overwhelmed, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: "We're going to do everything we possibly can to give the NHS the support, the resources it needs.
"That includes, for instance, opening the Nightingale hospitals and the London Nightingale hospital is now receiving patients for the first time since April."
He said sending some patients to hotels was a "further back-up plan" only done if appropriate for the patient but "it's not something we are actively putting in place".
He said it would be for "step-down" patients only.
Lockdown 3.0 survey: Have your say on supermarkets, nurseries and even tougher rules
On vaccinating people 24/7, he said: "We're absolutely up for doing that if it helps to speed up the vaccination programme.
"I can't see that being the major factor, because most people want to get vaccinated in the daytime, and also most people who are doing the vaccinations want to give them in the daytime, but there may be circumstances in which that would help.
"We're absolutely up for that."