"The next coronavirus phase will be more challenging for NHS," Jeremy Hunt tells LBC

14 May 2020, 20:41 | Updated: 14 May 2020, 20:45

"The next coronavirus phase will be more challenging for NHS," Jeremy Hunt tells LBC

By Fiona Jones

Health Select Committee chair Jeremy Hunt explains why the next coronavirus phase will be more difficult for the NHS than the last - he predicted what this may look like.

Jeremy Hunt, chair of the Health Select Committee, has been questioning and consulting with health bosses today about the next coronavirus phase.

Iain asked: "NHS trusts have said the next phase will be more difficult than the one we've just gone through, how can that be so?"

"Because the next phase has got many objectives from cancer patients to mental health patients to keeping people in an A&E waiting room safe so they're not catching the virus.

"The first phase was just coronavirus and everyone was doing everything they could to protect the NHS and help it. But now I think the penny is dropping that the "new normal" for the NHS is going to be every bit as challenging as the "new normal" for the London Underground.

"You just think about the crowds of people who wait in typical GP surgeries or A&E or chemotherapy waiting rooms and the challenge of keeping them all safe is going to be massive," he said.

Iain pointed out that newer hospitals, which may be larger and have wider halls, will be better equipped to manage social distancing - for older hospitals this will be a "real challenge."

"That is absolutely right," Mr Hunt said, "everyone is going to have to find out how to do this and one of the crucial things that needs to happen...is we are going to need to have weekly testing of staff."

This is after a Cambridge University study found that of 3% of staff in a local hospital were carrying the virus without knowing it.

"If you've got that level of infection inside a hospital, obviously people are going to worry it's not a clean environment so ramping up testing for frontline staff in care homes and hospitals is going to be absolutely vital too."