Michael Gove reveals thousands of new ventilators will be delivered to NHS next week

The first of thousands of new ventilators will be deployed to the NHS to help during patients suffering with coronavirus, Michael Gove has revealed.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 6:41 pm

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, revealed the first of thousands of new ventilators devices will roll off the production line this weekend, ready to be delivered to the NHS next week.

Capacity is also being increased to provide oxygen to affected patients at an earlier stage in the process of the disease.

A team led by UCL, working with Mercedes-Benz, will produce 10,000 new CPAP devices to support patients suffering with Covid-19.

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A team led by UCL, working with Mercedes-Benz, will produce 10,000 new CPAP devices to support patients suffering with Covid-19. (Credit: PA)

Mr Gove said: "We have just over 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals now. This number has increased since the epidemic began thanks to the hard work of NHS professionals, but we need more.

"That is why we are buying more ventilators from abroad, including for EU nations, and it is also why we are developing new sources of supply at home.

"Before the epidemic struck, we had very little domestic manufacture of ventilators, but now, thanks to the dedication of existing medical supply companies, and the ingenuity of our manufacturing base, we have existing models being produced in significantly greater numbers and new models coming on stream."

Orders have been placed with Ford, Airbus, the Formula One racing teams including McLaren, GKN aerospace, Rolls-Royce and Dyson.

The Government is also conducting rapid clinical trials on drugs, including antimalarials, which may be able to reduce the impact of Covid-19.

It comes as coronavirus-related deaths in the UK rose from 1,408 to 1,789, an increase of 381 on Tuesday - the biggest day-on-day rise in the number of deaths since the outbreak began.

Medical director of NHS England, Professor Stephen Powis, insisted for most who catch the virus, they will suffer a mild "flu-like illness" but "for a small percentage of people hospitalisation is required."

He said, however, the rate of hospitalisation has been increasing, adding that a third of admissions have been in London, where the virus is spreading more rapidly than other parts of the UK.

But he also said there is evidence the public is sticking to social distancing measures and as a result, there was a ‘bit of a plateau’ in the number of new confirmed cases.

"It is really important not to read too much into this because it is really early days. We are not out of the woods, we are very much in the woods," he said, referencing NHS graphs.

"So green shoots, but only green shoots, and we must not be complacent and we must not take our foot off the pedal."

Professor Powis added that the NHS Nightingale field hospital, which will hold up to 4,000, will be ready to accept its first Covid-19 patients this week.

On end of life care, Mr Powis said: "I would expect end of life care to be just as good as it is in normal times and I know that's something that our clinicians and hospitals and other health care facilities are thinking about very carefully.

"Clearly with the additional impact of this particular virus we do need to think carefully about when people are discharged from hospital if they have had the COVID, and so we have issued specific guidance to assist in that discharge, for instance, if discharging into care homes.

"So we have taken account of the fact that over and above our normal procedures we need to take account that we have a new infectious disease."