As the UK death rate from Covid-19 rose over 500 per day, the NHS completed the Nightingale Hospital that it has been constructing at ExCel London, but the government came under sustained pressure over the lack of testing and personal protective equipment. Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock responded with a five-point plan for testing; and also wrote off historic trust debts.
NHS Digital created a new planning dataset, based on NHS Pathways usage by 999 and NHS 111 services and NHS 111 Online, while NHS England / Improvement announced that NHS staff would have free access to mental health apps until December.
The Covid-19 crisis tightened, with prime minister Boris Johnson asking people living in the UK to “stay home” to “protect the NHS” and “save lives”. The NHS prepared for the critical weeks of the crisis by confirming plans to open a 4,000 bed Nightingale Hospital at London’s ExCel centre and appealing for volunteers to help the service.
NHSX launched a £500,000 Techforce19 challenge for IT that could be “rapidly scaled” to support people self-isolating and prevent social isolation. And the Health Tech Newspaper published two features on the health tech response to the pandemic, with the support of Highland Marketing and its clients.
It has been another week of fast-moving developments in the novel coronavirus crisis. For the NHS, the key developments were an official letter setting out the ‘next steps’ for the service to take and the publication of the government’s Coronavirus Bill, while London started to reorganise its hospitals to separate Covid-19 cases from other, emergency work.
In the health tech space, the NHS’ digital bodies clarified their responsibilities and responses, revised IG and messaging guidance, and launched a 48-hour procurement for virtual triage and consultation capability. And companies moved to outline their support and offers to the health service.