Grant Shapps has said the NHS must do “whatever it needs to do” to deal with the current crisis, including potentially treating patients in hospital car parks.
The Business Secretary was asked about the prospect of some patients receiving emergency treatment in temporary modular units under an emergency recovery plan for the health service announced by the Health Secretary.
Mr Shapps told LBC radio on Tuesday: “I think the most important thing is to deal with these backlogs and the pressures that the NHS is under.
“I’m in favour of the NHS doing whatever it needs to do to clear those backlogs and if that means temporary, modular, whatever, or using clinics close to people or whatever else is required, I mean, for heaven’s sake, let’s get on and do those things.
“Anyone looking at this realises that through Covid the NHS built up enormous pressures. It was dealing with one thing primarily, Covid. And having now to go back to all that elective surgery that didn’t happen is putting huge pressure on.”
More physical capacity
Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Monday said more physical capacity would be created in and around overcrowded A&E departments “in weeks not months” by using temporary structures.
He admitted emergency care has “not been acceptable in recent weeks” for some patients and staff in England, as he announced an urgent recovery plan for the NHS in the Commons.
The Health Secretary told MPs: “By using modular units, this capacity will be available in weeks, not months.
“And our £50 million investment will focus on modular support this year.
“We are giving Trusts discretion on how best to use these units to decompress their emergency departments.
“That might be spaces for short-stay post-A&E care where there’s no need for the patient to go to a ward for further observation, or for discharge lounges where previously they’ve not been able to take patients still in a bed – many of those are often simply chairs – and also additional capacity alongside the emergency department at the front end of a hospital.”
Some of the strain on the NHS comes from around 13,000 people occupying hospital beds in England – despite being medically fit to discharge – because they need further care before going home.