Labour backs calls for private hospital beds to be taken over by state to tackle coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 14:29 14 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 14 March 2020

A sign outside Watford General Hospital relating to the Coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

A sign outside Watford General Hospital relating to the Coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

PA Wire

Labour has backed calls for private hospital to be taken over by the state to cope with the impact of coronavirus

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The GMB union and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to requisition beds in 'plush private hospitals' to ease the burden on the NHS.

Ashworth said it would be 'completely wrong' for Boris Johnson not to use all the resources available to tackle the crisis.

The GMB said there are at least 570 private hospitals in the UK with 8,000 around beds.

The union's general secretary Tim Roache said: 'The prime minister says this is 'the worst public health crisis for a generation' - well he needs to start acting like it.


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'It can't be right that we have plush private hospitals lying empty waiting for the wealthy to fall ill, while people are left in dying in hospitals for the want of a bed.

'Do the right thing and let these unused beds be requisitioned by the NHS to save lives.'

Ashworth said: 'The government should leave no stone unturned when it comes to supporting our NHS and making sure it is best equipped to protect life throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.'

Meanwhile Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy called for the government to be more transparent about its approach and demanded extra resources for social care.

'We deserve answers about why our response differs from other governments, based on their own medical and scientific advice, and from the World Health Organisation,' she was expected to tell the National Union of Mineworkers in Barnsley.

'The government must publish the analysis behind its decisions to reassure the public.

'Who conducted that analysis, and is it medical or behavioural science that is driving these decisions?'

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