• NHS organisations can bid for funds to prepare for coronavirus from uncapped capital facility
  • Additional support ready for NHS 111 if needed, says Matt Hancock

NHS organisations can now bid for capital funding to pay for urgent works needed for their response to the coronavirus outbreak, the health secretary announced today.

The Department of Health and Social Care is “inviting bids from NHS organisations” for new facilities, such as isolation pods, Matt Hancock told Parliament.

He said this could include “the creation of further isolation areas and other necessary facilities”. The department will “very rapidly assess those bids”, he said.

“This will be new money to those NHS organisations that are bidding for it. We haven’t put a cap on it,” Mr Hancock added.

GPs can also bid for the funding, but the health and social care secretary reiterated advice that people who suspect they have coronavirus should not go to their GPs, but remain at home and call NHS 111.

“If they do go to A&E, we’ll ensure that these pods are available to ensure people are separated from the vast majority of people going to A&E who we don’t want to get contaminated,” he said.

Mr Hancock also confirmed additional support will be made available to NHS 111 services for “those taking the calls” if necessary. However, he told MPs: “Thus far we haven’t had to do that because compared to the huge scale of millions of calls to NHS 111 that are made, the number concerning those who think they may have coronavirus is still relatively small.”

DHSC reported today that eight people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, out of 1,358 tested to date. Mr Hancock said contact tracing for the first four cases has been completed and tracing for the latest four cases is ongoing.

So far, there have been 40,235 confirmed cases of the virus in China and 909 reported deaths. In the rest of the world, there have been 319 confirmed cases and one death.