A former Government chief scientist has said that coronavirus patients over the age of 90 should consider not going into hospital to avoid being a ‘burden’ on the health service.
Professor Sir David King suggested that patients could choose to stay at home rather than risk dying in hospital to help the NHS cope.
‘I certainly would advise anyone in the region of 90, 95 years old who is susceptible for whatever reason, not to go into hospital for two reasons,’ Sir David said, according to BBC Radio 4.
‘One is, you go into hospital at that age with problems and you may never come out, but of course the second reason is you are overburdening the NHS.’
Caroline Abrahams, from Age UK, said some would have already come to the same decision, but ‘in the end, it’s not a question for individuals and families, it’s a question for doctors’.
Sir David was the permanent Special Representative for Climate Change from September 2013 until March 2017, and had previously been the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor from 2000 to 2007.
The Government is now under pressure to provide more protective equipment for doctors and nurses, with the number of positive UK tests rising to 9,529 at 9am on Wednesday, up from 8,077 at the same point on Tuesday.
Professor Sir David King suggested that patients should choose to stay at home rather than risk dying in hospital to help the NHS cope
A total of 97,019 people had been tested with 87,490 negative results, while the number of deaths of UK patients who tested positive for Covid-19 increased from from 422 to 465 is a jump of 43.
The British Medical Association (BMA) warned doctors and patients would die without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) across the NHS.
It said said there was ‘growing evidence that thousands of GPs and hospital staff are still not being provided with the kit they need to properly protect themselves and their patients’, despite Government assurances.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said millions of items of PPE had been sent out in recent days, with a hotline set up so staff could report shortages.
BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘A construction worker wouldn’t be allowed to work without a hard hat and proper boots.
‘Even a bee-keeper wouldn’t inspect a hive without proper protective clothing.
‘And yet this Government expects NHS staff to put themselves at risk of serious illness, or even death, by treating highly infectious Covid-19 patients without wearing proper protection. This is totally unacceptable.’
Asked about the latest death toll figures, business minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC2’s Newsnight: ‘Well, at this stage I wouldn’t interpret anything into the figures.
‘I think the Prime Minister is right to say that the message is very clear – stay at home, make sure we protect the NHS and save lives.’
The Government is now under pressure to provide more protective equipment for doctors and nurses, with the number of positive UK tests rising to 9,529 at 9am on Wednesday, up from 8,077 at the same point on Tuesday
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told ITV’s Peston: ‘We need to get more PPE out to people working on the frontline, that’s in hospitals, it’s in social care, it’s in pharmacies and GPs’ surgeries.
‘We are doing that, we are ramping up efforts very significantly, we’re taking very large stocks now, over 10 million masks for example in the last few days.
‘Every social care provider in the country will get deliveries this week. We now have a PPE hotline so that those people on the front line can ring up, get the order that they desperately need.’
The economic impact of the outbreak has also brought a large spike in the number of people applying for Universal Credit.
Ministers are being urged to step-up testing for coronavirus, especially among health workers.
But the UK’s Chief Medical Officer dismissed suggestions a coronavirus antibody test will be ready to buy online next week.
Professor Chris Whitty said the accuracy of the tests needed to be properly tested before they were made available, and he stressed that frontline NHS workers would need them first so they could get back to work if they have already had the virus.
A national salute is set to take place to honour the hardworking NHS staff who are trying to battle coronavirus.
In a gesture of thanks to the frontline healthcare heroes, everyone across the nation has been invited to join a a mass round of applause from their doorsteps, windows and balconies on Thursday at 8pm.