NHS will reopen for cancer treatment and other vital services from tomorrow, says Matt Hancock – The Sun
THE NHS will reopen for cancer treatment and other vital services from tomorrow.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tonight told Brits that the health service is "open", urging people to come forward if they need help.
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Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, he said: "As the number of hospitalisations from coronavirus begins to fall, I can announce that starting tomorrow, we will begin the restoration of other NHS services starting with the most urgent like cancer care and mental health support.
"The exact pace of the restoration will be determined by local circumstances on the ground, according to local need and the amount of coronavirus cases that hospital is having to deal with.
"Having written of £13.4bn of historic NHS debt, I want to ensure the NHS is always there in a way that doesn’t just help us recover from coronavirus as a country, but also puts us in a stronger position for the future."
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He added: "Our message is that the NHS is open. Help us to help you.
"So if you’re worried about chest pain for instance, maybe you might be having a heart attack or a stroke. Or you feel a lump or are worried about cancer.
"Or you’re a parent concerned about your child. Please come forward and seek help as you always would.
Our message is that the NHS is open. Help us to help you
"It is so important that everybody uses the NHS responsibly and the NHS will always be there for you when you need it.
"Just as it’s been there for us all throughout this crisis and throughout our lives."
He also announced that families of NHS and social care staff who die from coronavirus in the course of "essential frontline work" will receive a £60,000 payment.
It comes as the Prime Minister returned to take charge of the Government's response to the coronavirus crisis following his recovery from Covid-19.
He said there are signs that the UK is "passing through the peak" of the outbreak and "coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict".
Comparing the disease to a mugger, he said: "This is the moment when we have begun, together, to wrestle it to the floor."
But he said it is also the moment of maximum risk because of the danger that people would look at the "apparent success" and "go easy" on social distancing measures.
It remains the "biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war", he said, and "every day I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land".
More than 20,000 people have already died with the disease in hospitals, with the true death toll including care homes and other settings likely to be far higher.
Speaking from a podium in Downing Street, Mr Johnson acknowledged the pressure to lift some of the draconian restrictions imposed on British people and businesses.
He said: "I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can" but "I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life."
The Prime Minister has been under intense pressure to set out how the lockdown will be lifted.
He indicated that it would be a gradual process and promised the "maximum possible transparency" with efforts to seek consensus across party lines.
He said: "When we are sure that this first phase is over and that we are meeting our five tests – deaths falling, NHS protected, rate of infection down, really sorting out the challenges of testing and PPE, avoiding a second peak – then that will be the time to move on to the second phase in which we continue to suppress the disease and keep the reproduction rate – the R rate – down, but begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions and one by one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy.
"And in that process difficult judgments will be made and we simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the Government will be saying much more about this in the coming days."
The Prime Minister arrived back in Downing Street on Sunday evening after recuperating at Chequers following his discharge from hospital, where he had spent three nights in intensive care.
Meanwhile, small businesses will be able to secure a loan worth up to £50,000 with the Government guaranteeing 100 per cent of the risk in the latest emergency scheme aimed at helping firms survive the coronavirus crisis.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the "bounce back loans" would have the interest paid by the Government for the first 12 months.
Mr Sunak acknowledged that some small firms were struggling to access credit, and by guaranteeing the full value of the loan he hopes that lenders will allow companies to borrow the funds they need.
But he rejected calls for the Government to underwrite other coronavirus loan schemes with a 100 per cent guarantee, insisting his new plan would "carefully target" the level of state support at those who need it most.
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The Prime Minister has less than two weeks before the next major decision point comes up with the next three-week review of the lockdown restrictions due on May 7.
It is thought that among the first restrictions to be eased could be a reopening of schools, although Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab – who had been deputising for Mr Johnson – said that would be "inconceivable" without some further measures in place.
Ministers are also thought to be considering allowing some non-essential businesses to open, such as garden centres and car showrooms, provided social distancing can be maintained.
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