During the Budget, the Chancellor announced an initial £5 billion response fund to ensure the NHS and public services have the resources they need to tackle Covid-19.
• The over-riding object is to protect life and protect our NHS – we have a plan, based on the expertise of world-leading scientists, and we have already bought valuable time for our NHS to prepare.
• The Government is taking all of the action necessary to ensure the NHS has what it needs to deal with Covid-19. This includes an initial response fund of £5 billion and additional funding for research into test and surveillance around the virus.
• The NHS will be at the frontline of our efforts against Covid-19, and we will ensure that whatever it needs, it will get.
These measures include:
• Providing any extra resource the NHS needs to tackle the virus. A new £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response Fund has been created so the NHS can treat coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people; and ensure funding is available for other public services.11
• Bolstering NHS 111 to provide advice to people who need it. While people with mild symptoms should not call NHS 111, we need to make sure the service is available for those who need it, with severe symptoms or if they are not getting better after 7 days. Around 500 additional call handlers have already been trained to staff the NHS 111 service, representing an increase of 20 per cent. In addition, the new NHS 111 online service is also available to provide advice and will free up call handlers’ time, so they are able to prioritise those experiencing symptoms.12
• Researching the virus to look for cures and better testing methods. £40 million of new funding has been provided to enable further rapid research in COVID-19, with the aim of increasing the capacity and capability of testing and surveillance.13
• Working with international partners to tackle the virus. We will provide a contribution of up to £150 million to the International Monetary Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, to help the effort to stop further transmission, including into the UK.14
• Working with British manufacturers to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS. The Prime Minister has spoken with manufacturers, including Unipart Group, and called on them to support the nationwide effort to fight the virus. Businesses are being asked to support with the production of equipment such as ventilators for the NHS.
• Increasing our testing capacity to 25,000 hospital patients a day. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country. The increased capacity is expected to be ready within 4 weeks, with highest-priority cases being tested first.