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NHS migrant surcharge scrapped for health care workers after u-turn from Boris Johnson


BORIS Johnson has u-turned on making NHS workers pay the £624 migrant surcharge and will ask officials to scrap it as soon as possible.

The PM has asked the Home Office and the Department for Health and Social Care to remove NHS and care workers from the extra charge whenever they can.

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No10 confirmed this evening that  work is now underway, and the full details will be released in the coming days.

It comes just hours before the nation will again clap to show appreciation of our hard-working carers, tonight at 8pm.

The PM is said to have been "thinking" about the issue for some time – after doctors in the NHS saved his life earlier this year.

After getting out of intensive care Boris was reported to ave said to doctors: “I owe you my life.”

And The PM showed appreciation by clapping his medics just two hours after being wheeled out of intensive care and back to a normal ward at St Thomas’ Hospital.

A No10 spokesperson said: "He been a personal beneficiary of carers from abroad and understands the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff.

"The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make."

The u-turn will mean that all NHS workers – everyone from medical staff down to porters and cleaners – won't have to pay the levy.

But the NHS surcharge will go up for everyone else in October as planned.

The Government thinks its fair to expect people arriving in the UK to pay towards the NHS.

Labour's Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the news. He said: "Boris Johnson is right to have u-turned and backed our proposal to remove the NHS charge for health professionals and care workers.

"This is a victory for common decency and the right thing to do.

"We cannot clap our carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next."

The swift-u-turn came just five hours after the PM's spokesperson defended the charge.

He said: "It goes directly back into the NHS to help save lives.

“Income from the surcharge is distributed between the four devolved health administrations in England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland for the purpose of health spending.

“Money that we put into our health service has a direct impact on improving people’s lives and saving people’s lives.”

At the moment Home Office exempts NHS workers from paying the charge for one year if their visas expire before October amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news is the second u-turn in just 24 hours from the Government.

Yesterday the Home Office backed down on a right to remain scheme for the families of NHS workers who die on the frontline.

Previously they were exempt from being able to remain in the UK if their loved one passes away, but that has now been changed too.

Priti Patel said: "When I announced the introduction of the bereavement scheme in April, I said we would continue to work across government to look at ways to offer further support. Today we are extending the scheme to NHS support staff and social care workers.

"We want to ensure families have the support they need and so this will be effective immediately and retrospectively."

What is the surcharge and what does it cover?

The NHS Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a one-off payment required by non-British citizens that enables them access to the National Health Service.

It applies to anyone and their dependants wishing to enter the UK under domestic immigration rules.

The IHS was implemented in 2015.

It's payable when a person initially fills out their visa application, usually paid online.

You can also pay by post.

Once the visa is granted or the payment cleared you can start using the NHS.

You still need to pay for some services, like prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and assisted conception.

If accessing NHS healthcare in the UK, even if you've paid your IHS, you should bring your biometric residence permit.

The charge is increasing from £400 to £624 for one year as of October 2020.

However, the longer your visa, the more you'll pay.

The news tonight comes after a BAFTA award-winning filmmaker turned hospital cleaner, who works on a coronavirus ward, today blasted the surcharge for migrant health workers who "risk their lives on the frontline".

Syrian refugee Hassan Akkad, 32, a photographer and filmmaker, said that for many health workers, the  surcharge was two weeks' worth of pay.

Workers coming to the UK from outside the European Economic Area have to pay a fee to use the health service which will soon increase from £400 a year to £624.

The essential worker today said he made £8.50 an hour for working as a cleaner in a Covid-19 ward.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said: "It's unfair and it's unjust.

"I would also argue that it's inhumane.

"I'm doing this job temporarily but for most cleaners and porters this is two weeks.

"This is the salary of two weeks to access the very same institution that they are now working for during the toughest, worst public health crisis in modern history.

"When I'm in the hospital, I'm observing what's going on around me and you can see that people are genuinely disturbed by these unfair policies that the government keeps coming with."

He said he himself didn't need to pay the health surcharge but the morale among the family of workers was low during the pandemic.

GMB host Piers Morgan said he was horrified by the NHS surcharge that is increasing from £400 to £624  for one year as of October 2020.

Piers said: "It seems frankly disgusting that everybody like them has to pay £624 for the pleasure and privilege for using the service they work in."

Boris Johnson yesterday revealed 181 NHS workers and 131 social care workers have died from coronavirus.


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Superheroes bow to NHS angels in stunning artwork on garage door

Superheroes bow to NHS angels in stunning artwork on businessman’s garage door

  • Craig Perkins, 40, had the £500 vinyl wrap fitted on his garage door
  • The image shows comic book heroes such as Iron Man, Thor and Spiderman 
  • Perkins, in Solihull, Birmingham, said he wanted to pay tribute to NHS workers
  • He said that he found the design online, and is now trying to find its creator 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

They are being praised as superhuman for their dedication in helping victims of coronavirus.

Now a group of superheroes have been captured in art bowing down to NHS staff – on a home’s garage door.

Businessman Craig Perkins, 40, had a £500 vinyl wrap of the artwork placed on the 8ft by 7ft door in honour of health workers as they battle the pandemic. 

Comic book heroes such as Hulk, Superman and Batman bow their heads as medics in scrubs walk down a hospital corridor.

Paramedic Aaron Duncan (L) and Technician Kim Haynes in front of the art work paying tribute to key workers on Craig Perkins’ garage door, Solihull, Birmingham

Foundry boss Mr Perkins, of Solihull, West Midlands, said paramedics have been posing alongside the mural since it was put up.

He stressed: ‘I just wanted to do something to pay tribute to our health workers who are doing an incredible job in unimaginable circumstances. We should be proud of them.’ 

He found the striking design online – but the artist was not credited and he is now on a mission to find its mystery maker.

He added: ‘As soon I had it fitted, there was an ambulance on the green where we live. The timing was incredible.’ Mr Perkins said NHS staff ‘deserve recognition.’

The dad-of-two has paid tribute to NHS workers by having a stunning mural of superheroes bowing down to medics painted on his garage door

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Lifestyle

Just Eat donates 20% to NHS charities from orders placed on Sundays

FOOD delivery app Just Eat has launched a new initiative to raise £1million for charities working with frontline workers in the fight against coronavirus.

The company has teamed up with its restaurant partners to launch ‘Super Hero Sunday’, and is donating 20 per cent from each order on Sunday to NHS Charities Together, National Emergencies Trust and the Care Workers’ Charity.

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It launched the campaign at the weekend as a way of saying a heartfelt thank you to the heroic workers going above and beyond in this time of crisis.

All three groups benefiting from the initiative do pivotal work to support those working hard to protect lives and collectively support a wide range of local community foundations and 200 NHS charities across the UK.

It is hoped Super Hero Sunday, which is running over four consecutive weekends, will raise £1million for the charities.

Karolina Gerlich, executive director of the Care Workers’ Charity, said: “Care workers are on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis delivering the best care they can in these difficult circumstances, often making many personal sacrifices.

“They are putting their health and lives at risk and many have had to shield or self-isolate because of it or have had the virus themselves.

“We are grateful to Just Eat for including us as beneficiaries of their initiative.”

Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “Thank you, Just Eat, for choosing to donate funds in aid of NHS Charities Together Covid-19 appeal.

“This money helps us continue to support NHS staff, volunteers and patients during this crisis – now and in the future.”

John Herriman, CEO, National Emergencies Trust, added: “Super Hero Sunday is a brilliant initiative that is funded by our friends at Just Eat and its restaurant partners.

“We are delighted by the donations which will enable us to quickly get help to those that need it most right across the country.”

Super Hero Sunday is the latest move by Just Eat to support the extraordinary people who have been leading the fight against coronavirus.

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So far, the food delivery app has delivered two million discounted meals to NHS and healthcare workers and their families, saving them £3.3million.

It has also partnered with charity FoodCycle to deliver food parcels to the vulnerable and those in isolation, while putting in place a £10million emergency support package to assist small, independent restaurants through the crisis.

Andrew Kenny, managing director of Just Eat UK, said: “The fight against coronavirus requires a vast number of incredible individuals to go beyond the call of duty to keep us safe, keep the nation fed and keep this country on its feet.

“It’s only right that the efforts of each and every one of these everyday heroes are recognised.

“By coming together with our hard working restaurant partners to raise funds through Super Hero Sunday, we hope to make a real difference and ensure NHS workers, key workers and the millions on the frontline in our communities receive the support they need now and beyond this crisis.”

Here's whether takeaways are open during the coronavirus lockdown.

Some food outlets and cafes have begun to reopen, including Costa.

And McDonald's fans were heartbroken when the fast food chain revealed it would be reopening – but without its breakfast menu.

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Carrie Symonds claps for NHS one day after giving birth to baby boy

Carrie Symonds claps for the NHS: Boris Johnson’s fiancée tweets she has ‘another wonderful reason’ to salute healthcare heroes just a day after giving birth to PM’s new son

  • Carrie Symonds took part in the clap for care workers a day after giving birth
  • On Twitter she said she had ‘another wonderful reason to thank the NHS’
  • PM Boris Johnson held his first press briefing since recovering from coronavirus
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Carrie Symonds had another reason to thank the NHS this week as she confirmed she was clapping for health care workers the day after giving birth.

The 32-year-old posted on Twitter at 8pm tonight confirming she would be taking part in the nationwide weekly clap.

Symonds also took the opportunity to wish Captain Tom Moore a happy 100th birthday.

In the post she said: ‘Clapping again for our tremendous carers tonight and wishing hero @captaintommoore a very happy birthday.

Symonds (left) gave birth yesterday morning and fiancé Boris Johnson was present at the birth. Pictured: Symonds and Johnson arrive at The Midland, near Manchester Central convention complex on the eve of the Conservative Party conference on September 28, 2019

Carrie Symonds took to Twitter to thank the NHS and confirm that she was taking part in the weekly clap for care workers

‘I also have another wonderful reason to thank the NHS this week too

‘Thank you so, so much!’ 

Despite confirming she took part in the clap tonight, Symonds was not seen outside Downing Street with fiancé Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister made his first public appearance today since Symonds gave birth to their baby boy as he led the Downing Street press briefing.

This was also the first briefing he has led since recovering from coronavirus.

The Prime Minister started by thanking the NHS.

He said: ‘I want to thank everybody who has been doing such a good job in my absence, and I want to thank the NHS for so much – including getting me back here and, I might add, a very much happier hospital visit yesterday.’

Downing Street has been tight-lipped with information about their son, only releasing the gender of the child, the fact both mother and child were doing well and that Boris Johnson had been present at the birth.

The PM’s father, Stanley Johnson, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ and ‘thrilled’ by the birth of his grandson. 

No 10 said that Boris Johnson is not expected to take his two-week paternity leave until later in the year.

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NHS cardiac research nurse, 34, dies from coronavirus

NHS cardiac research nurse, 34, dies from coronavirus as colleagues pay tribute to ‘true gem’ who ‘lit up the room’

  • Ken Lambatan worked in the cardiac unit at St George’s Hospital in London 
  • The 34-year-old nurse was described as an incredibly popular member of staff
  • His death was announced shortly before the nation held a minute’s silence 
  • Across the country people remembered NHS staff who had died of Covid-19  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

An NHS nurse working in a Clinical Research Facility at St George’s Hospital in London has died of coronavirus, it has been confirmed. 

Ken Lambatan, 34, worked at the hospital’s cardiac unit. He is the latest NHS front line worker to have died of Covid-19. 

His death was announced a short time before the nation held a minute’s silence for health workers such as Mr Lambatan, who lose their lives to the killer disease. 

Nurse Ken Lambatan, who was based at the cardiology department at St George’s Hospital in London is the latest NHS front line worker to have died of Covid-19 

Mr Lambatan was described by managers as a ‘true gem’ who was very popular with colleagues and patients 

Mr Lambatan’s death was announced shortly before the nation came to a halt for a minute’s silence to remember NHS staff who have lost their lives in the battle against Covid-19 

Jacqueline Totterdell, Chief Executive of St George’s Hospital and Professor Jenny Higham, Principal of St George’s, University of London led tributes to their colleague. 

In a statement released today, the pair wrote: ‘Everyone at St George’s is deeply saddened by the death of Ken, one of our cardiac research nurses.

‘Ken was very popular with staff, and described as a “true gem” by those that knew him well. He was dedicated to his role as a research nurse here at St George’s, and was as popular with his patients as he was with colleagues.

‘Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and colleagues at this time.’

Therese Hona said on Twitter: ‘My sister’s friend Ken Lambatan, a research nurse at St. George’s Hospital, has died today. He was barely 34 years old, fit and active. He developed hypercoagulation as a complication to COVID. His family is immensely heartbroken. Please honour him by staying at home.’

The Press Association has confirmed that more than 90 front line health care workers have died since March 25. 

At least 24,000 people in the UK have died after suffering confirmed or suspected Covid-19, new figures show. 

Some 24,243 deaths involving coronavirus have now been registered across the UK, analysis by the PA news agency shows, as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reported there had been more than 4,000 deaths in care homes in England.

It comes as the nation held a minute’s silence to honour those who have lost their lives on the frontline following a campaign from Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal of College of Nursing.

People across the UK paused for a minute in tribute to the sacrifice made by those in roles ranging from doctors and nurses to carers, cleaners, porters and bus drivers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has just returned to work this week after recovering from Covid-19, joined the countrywide commemoration, as did Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

It comes as the NHS is preparing to resume key non-coronavirus services, including the most urgent cancer care, over fears thousands of patients could be having their illnesses made worse or missed altogether.

Professor Karol Sikora, a cancer specialist and dean at the University of Buckingham medical school, said the NHS must get going again on heart and cancer care, adding there was a need to avoid a ‘catastrophe’ on cancer.

Earlier, the Health Secretary was confronted on LBC radio by the son of a medic who died two weeks after warning the Government about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Intisar Chowdhury, 18, the son of Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a consultant urologist at Homerton hospital in east London, asked Mr Hancock whether he regretted not taking his father’s concerns seriously and asked him to ‘openly acknowledge’ there had been mistakes in handling the virus.

Answering the question, the Health Secretary said: ‘Intisar, I’m really sorry about your dad’s death and I have seen the comments you’ve made and what you’ve said in public and I think it’s very brave of you.

‘We took very, very seriously what your father said and we’ve been working around the clock to ensure that there’s enough protective equipment.’ 

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told the Commons Science and Technology Committee he would be ‘terribly worried’ about lifting lockdown measures with no or limited knowledge of the population’s immunity against coronavirus.

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NHS nurse who battled coronavirus in same ICU as Boris Johnson dies

NHS nurse, 54, who battled coronavirus in same intensive care ward as Boris Johnson dies

  • Care home nurse Larni Zuniga, 54, was treated at St Thomas’ Hospital in London  
  • Married father was originally from Philippines but had worked in UK for 12 years 
  • He had not seen his family for five years and received UK citizenship in February
  • Mr Zuniga was treated on the same ward as Prime Minister but died last Friday 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A nurse who fought for life alongside Boris Johnson in intensive care has died from coronavirus.

Care home nurse Larni Zuniga, 54, was treated in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London at the same time as the Prime Minister, who is 55.

Originally from the Philippines, the married father had worked in Britain for 12 years and had not seen his family for five years.

Care home nurse Larni Zuniga, who worked in London, was given UK citizenship in February

Mr Zuniga worked as a senior nurse at the Surrey Hills care home near his home in Godalming

He was given UK citizenship in February and had hoped to bring his wife Edith to Britain in June.

His daughter Mutya posted an online tribute, saying: ‘I can’t stop crying. It’s too painful to bear.’

His cousin Christian, an NHS theatre nurse, said: ‘Larni was a true professional, who touched the lives of many. He made a tremendous difference to a lot of people’s lives.’

Mr Zuniga worked as a senior nurse at the Surrey Hills care home near his home in Godalming.

Mr Zuniga was treated in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London at the same time as Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured speaking at 10 Downing Street this morning)

St Thomas’ Hospital in London is pictured on the banks of the River Thames last Thursday

He was a Christian and regular attendee at the Jesus Is Lord Church in Oxford which he travelled two hours to get to every Sunday . 

Mr Zuniga’s death follows weeks of concerns that care home workers have not been given enough personal protective equipment to stop the spread of infection, despite homes going into lockdown to protect residents.

His friend Arnold Barrientos said: ‘Larni had absolutely sacrificed a lot for his family.

‘He worked hard and he battled hard times of not seeing his family just to ensure a comfortable life for them.’ 

‘He influenced a lot of people with his Godly counselling and loving, warm personality. 

‘He had so many unfulfilled dreams concerning his family due to this early demise.’

Mr Barrientos has organised a fundraiser on GoFundMe for Mr Zuniga’s funeral, which has so far raised more than £8,000 of its £10,000 target. 

More than 20,7000 people in Britain have now died from the virus in hospital, out of more than 152,000 who have been infected. 

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NHS coronavirus tracking app could prevent one case for every two people that download it – The Sun


A CONTACT tracing app could prevent one coronavirus infection for every one to two users who download it, said an expert advising the Government.

Professor Christophe Fraser, from the Oxford University's Big Data Institute said the app could be released "within weeks" to prevent a resurgence of the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Academics from Oxford University are advising NHSX, the health service's digital innovation unit developing the app, which would alert users if they had come into contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Professor Fraser said the traditional way of contact tracing is not quick enough because of how rapidly the virus is passed on.

He told the BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show that around 60 per cent of the population would need to download the app for it to become effective.

“We found that when we projected over the next three months, for every one to two users who download the app and who adhere to instructions, you’ll prevent one infection,” he said.

“For this intervention alone to stop resurgence of the epidemic, about 60 per cent of the population would have to use the app.

“Now that number may be a bit smaller if there are other interventions going on, which we hope there will be, social distancing, large community testing, and indeed manual contact tracing.”

According to the Professor around 50 per cent of transmissions occur before a person shows symptoms of the "very rapidly transmitted virus".

It is hoped that the app, which was tested at an RAF base in North Yorkshire this week, would address the issue of transmissions occuring before people show symptoms.

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Prof Fraser added: “The app is solving a specific problem, which is how do you get the message that you’re at risk and empower you to take measures to protect your friends, your family, your colleagues and the people you have been in contact with.”

Experts are aiming to release the NHS app “within weeks”, he told the programme, while a configuration is being developed for healthcare staff who could be exposed to Covid-19 while at work.

Asked if he thought pursuing a contact tracing app earlier could have saved lives, Prof Fraser said: “I think so.

“I worked on the Sars epidemic in 2003 and testing and tracing is really a cornerstone of how you stop a serious infection.

“And I do think that strategy scaled up is tremendously effective.”

He estimated that between 3 per cent and 10 per cent of the population could now have had the disease.

“There’s uncertainty around this but I would say nationally, somewhere between sort of three and maybe up to 10 per cent of the population would have had coronavirus by this stage,” he said.

“We’re still waiting for the definitive studies based on immunological assays, but this is based on our understanding base of the spread of coronavirus.”

Asked if it could be “several million people, up to six million”, he replied: “That kind of figure – probably a bit less.”




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First two NHS Nightingale patients discharged

The first successfully treated patients are wheeled out of London’s new Nightingale hospital as experts say Britain has passed peak of ‘first wave’ of coronavirus outbreak

  • First two Covid-19 patients were discharged from the NHS Nightingale hospital
  • NHS staff were seen cheering and clapping as the two men were wheeled out 
  • They are first patients to be successfully discharged from centre since it opened 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

NHS staff erupted into applause as the first two successfully treated Covid-19 patients were discharged from the NHS Nightingale hospital in London today.

Healthcare workers broke into tears of joy as the two men were wheeled out of the  field hospital at the ExCeL, east London, on Sunday afternoon.

The patients are the first people to be successfully discharged from care since the hospital, which was built in nine days, first officially opened its doors on April 7.  

The NHS later confirmed one of the patients, Simon Chung, a father-of-one, in his fifties, would be transferred for ‘step-down’ care at Northwick Park hospital in Harrow.

NHS staff clapped and cheered as the first two successfully treated Covid-19 patients were discharged from the NHS Nightingale hospital in London

Healthcare workers broke into tears of joy as they watched  the two men wheeled away from the pop-up centre

Earlier today, staff were seen gathered outside in their scrubs to cheer the patients as they were taken into an ambulance on a stretcher and driven away from the centre.

A message on the NHS Nightingale Twitter page read: ‘We’re thrilled that the team at @NightingaleLDN have successfully treated and discharged their first patients! 

‘Thank you to all the brilliant clinicians and support staff working so hard to care for patients in the capital.’ 

The facility was built in nine days, though the NHS has never confirmed how many patients have been treated there, despite stating its capacity to cope with thousands of admissions.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘The Nightingale London may have been built in a matter of days in response to this unprecedented global health emergency but there are excellent facilities and, of course, the staff working there are every bit as skilled and dedicated as those caring for patients at other NHS hospitals.

‘We have not yet had to make extensive use of the Nightingale London thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, who have freed up more than 30,000 existing hospital beds, and the public, who have played their part by staying at home and saving lives.

‘It will count as a huge success for the whole country if we never need to use them but with further waves of coronavirus possible it is important that we have these extra facilities in place and treating patients.’

Eamonn Sullivan, nursing director at NHS Nightingale London said: ‘This is wonderful news and testament to all the clinicians and support staff who have been working around the clock to care for our patients.

Staff lined up outside as the successfully treated patients were wheeled into an ambulance and driven away 

Staff in scrubs and personal protective equipment watched as the patients were discharged

Today Eamonn Sullivan, nursing director at NHS Nightingale London said the scenes were a ‘testament to all the clinicians and support staff who have been working around the clock’

A message on the NHS Nightingale London Twitter page later wished the patients ‘all the best for their continued recovery’

‘Although these two patients being discharged today are now out of danger, their long road to recovery is a reminder of why everyone needs to do what they can to stay safe by following the Government’s advice.’

He added: ‘It’s a hugely poignant moment for us, it’s a very special moment for us – our staff have worked really, really hard to save Mr. Chung’s life. 

‘We’re really, really proud of what we’ve achieved, we’re part of a much bigger system in London but we’re really proud to have played our part in saving Mr. Chung’s life and helping him to get back to his family, back to his community.’ 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also took to Twitter to write: ‘So proud that the brilliant @NightingaleLDN  team have treated and discharged their first #coronavirus patients. 

It came as celebrities including Olivia Colman, David Walliams, Claudia Winkleman and Simon Cowell were among the names from showbiz and sport to record a thank-you message for NHS staff.

The London Nightingale is one of a network of seven sites providing surge capacity across England.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock later took to Twitter to say he was proud that the Nightingale team had treated and discharged their first patients

Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old who has raised more than £26 million by completing lengths of his back garden, will be the guest of honour at the opening of the new Nightingale hospital in Harrogate on Tuesday. 

The latest scenes come as  Sir Jeremy Farrar, a government scientific adviser, today offered encouraging news to Britons in lockdown as he said the country is over the peak – yet warned of future waves if social distancing falls by the wayside.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: ‘I think the probability and what we must be planning for is that there will be further waves of this in the future but for this first wave I think the number of new infections stabilised about a week or two ago and the number of hospitalisations maybe a week or so ago. 

‘Yes, tragically, there are still far too many people dying but the number of people dying in this country and actually in many countries in the world, is now either stabilising or starting to come down.

‘That is good news, we are probably just past the peak in many parts of this country as is true in many parts of the world and we’ll come off that and numbers will reduce but that has only happened because of the public’s respect for and following the advice around the social distancing and lockdowns.

Today government advisor Sir Jeremy Farrar said the country is over the peak – yet warned of future waves if social distancing falls

‘If we were to release those lockdowns too soon, whilst the infection rates are still high and there are still people in the community who have got infected, then the epidemic will come back again, it will come back very quickly.

‘It would rebound within a few weeks or a couple of months so it is critical that people are – and they are, the public is really respecting the advice and it is that which has led to the change in numbers.

‘These things don’t happen by chance, they happen because of what we’re all doing and the public deserves great thanks and respect for that.’

 

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One in three NHS and key workers test positive for coronavirus

One THIRD of NHS workers tested for coronavirus are positive, data shows amid row over nationwide shortage of face masks, aprons and gloves for frontline medics

  • Out of 16,888 tests carried out on key workers, 5,733 (33%) have been positive  
  • It compares to 23% of those suspected in the general population
  • Availability of PPE has been an ongoing issue during the coronavirus outbreak
  • There are fears it was provided too late, fuelling the spread among NHS workers 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

One in three NHS and critical key workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, official figures show. 

Out of almost 17,000 swabs carried out on key workers to date, 5,733 people have been infected – a rate of 33 per cent.

In comparison, 23 per cent of those in the general population, NHS hospital patients, have tested positive for the killer virus. 

Frontline NHS workers have been able to get tested since March 25 in Number 10’s bid to reduce the numbers off work in self isolation. Around 2,500 tests are being conducted daily on medics and their family members. 

Yesterday a record 800 of those came back as positive – the figure has doubled in a matter of days because more people are being tested. 

The shocking data comes amid fears a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) is fuelling the spread of the killer virus among NHS staff.

The availability of PPE has been a major issue during the coronavirus outbreak, with stocks currently running ‘critically low’ at some trusts. 

Yesterday a record 800 of those came back as positive – the figure has doubled in a matter of days because more people are being tested (pictured)

Out of 16,888 tests carried out on key workers and relevant household members to date, 5,733 people have been infected, a rate of 33 per cent

The slide shows how many of the new COVID-19 cases are among NHS and critical key workers in orange. Tests have been given to ‘pillar 2’ since March 25

Daily figures for coronavirus cases among NHS and key workers has gradually been increasing since testing was first offered to them.  

Of the 88,621 tests that have come back positive in England, Wales and Scotland, 5,733 have been among key workers and their loved ones. 

Testing of NHS staff began on March 25 – two months after Public Health England began swabbing people after travelling from high risk countries.

Health chiefs decided to restrict tests to just patients in hospital before promising to swab NHS workers and their family. 

On March 25 there were already 10,000 cases of coronavirus among the general population.

There were also concerns about the number of NHS staff off work self-isolating over fears that they, or household members, could have the virus. 

NHS WORKERS TOLD TO STOP CARING FOR PATIENTS WITHOUT PROPER PPE

Six in ten doctors in a survey conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons said their trusts have experienced PPE shortages within the past 30 days.

The survey of 1,978 members found a third do not believe they have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.

One described the lack of masks as ‘scandalous’ and said he had caught the disease from a patient who had gone on to infect six other members of staff.

Sue Hill, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: ‘We have been working with Government to ensure surgeons and their teams have the right advice about what level of PPE they need for different surgical procedures, but the overall picture from our survey is that there is still a lot more work to do to get adequate equipment to the front line. 

‘In the meantime we have urged our members not to risk their health, and that of their patients carrying out risky procedures.’ 

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has issued guidelines to its members saying that if they haven’t been given adequate PPE they can refuse to treat patients. 

The recommendations state: ‘Ultimately, if you have exhausted all other measures to reduce your risk and you have not been given appropriate PPE … you are entitled to refuse to work.’ 

The RCN said it would provide legal assistance to those making what it acknowledged was an ‘enormously difficult decision’ and warned them that they could face criminal prosecution for corporate manslaughter in ‘very rare’ cases for walking away. 

As part of a five pillar testing strategy, workers in the NHS, social care and their families who are in self isolation are able to get a test if they have symptoms.

If the test produces a negative result, it means they can return to work during a time the NHS is under immense pressure. 

The official figures come as NHS staff continue to report shortages of PPE, which is vital for limiting the spread of the killer infection.

At least 35 NHS staff have died during the outbreak after testing positive for COVID-19. It is not known how many contracted the virus due to inadequate supplies of PPE, however some of the victims complained of a lack of PPE before their death.

Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, who died at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, east London, on April 8, had urged for ‘appropriate PPE’.

The consultant urologist’s plea ‘to protect ourselves and our families’ came just five days before he was admitted to hospital with the killer infection. 

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), said it was ‘so tragic’ that medic had concerns over PPE.  

And the Royal College of Nursing told its members to refuse to treat people if they do not have adequate PPE. 

There are currently specific concerns about full-sleeve gown stocks running low. The gowns resist droplets from coughing and sneezing, therefore reduce spread of the virus around the hospital. 

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers in England which represents hospital trusts, told BBC Breakfast yesterday the stocks of gowns were ‘very, very low’. 

Mr Hopson said the supply of gowns – imported from China – was ‘hand-to-mouth’, and voiced concerns that equipment could run out completely if sustainable supply chains are not put in place.

He said the NHS ordered ‘a whole load of stock’ weeks ago, but delays have been caused by the product sometimes failing safety tests, while other batches have been mislabelled – meaning the NHS has ended up with additional masks. 

The official figures come as NHS staff continue to report shortages of PPE, which is vital for limiting the spread of the killer infection. Pictured: Testing being carried out at Leeds Temple Green Park and Ride, part of the drive to increase testing for thousands more NHS workers

UK MISSED THREE CHANCES TO GET PPE FROM EU SCHEME

The UK has missed three chances to participate in an EU scheme to buy huge quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The EU has ordered €1.5billion (£1.3billion) worth of protective masks, gowns and gloves for doctors and nurses – but Britain did not take part in talks about the purchases.

Some 25 European countries and eight companies are involved in the joint PPE procurement scheme and the first deliveries could be received within days, The Guardian reported.

A spokesman for the commission said the joint scheme has led to offers of protective gear in excess of the amount requested.

However, the UK will miss out on the PPE because it did not take part in any of the three rounds of bulk-buying which were first launched by the EU in February.

The Government has previously said it was unable to join the EU’s procurement schemes as it had not received an email of invitation.

But Whitehall officials reportedly only realised after all three rounds had been put out to tender that they had not received invitations to join the Joint Procurement Agreement steering committee where the orders are organised.

After telling the EU commission that the invitation emails were being sent to an outdated address the UK finally participated in its first meeting on joint PPE procurement on March 19.

However, British officials did not follow up that meeting and did not attend on March 25 when participating countries were invited to outline their requirements for future purchases by the next day.

At the daily Downing Street briefing on the coronavirus emergency yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government was trying to give frontline staff reassurance over PPE as NHS deaths from COVID-19 grow. 

Mr Raab said: ‘We understand the importance of getting PPE to the frontline whether it’s in care homes or the NHS. 

‘I think the strongest practical reassurance they will want and that we can give them is that over the Bank Holiday weekend over 16million items were delivered and we are straining every sinew to roll them out even further and even faster.’ 

It has emerged that the UK missed three chances to be part of an EU scheme to bulk buy PPE.

Britain failed to utilise opportunities to get items such as masks, gowns and gloves under an EU initiative, the Guardian stated.  

It means the UK won’t benefit from the first of GBP1.3 billion-worth of PPE being delivered to another 25 countries within the next few days.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We are working round the clock with industry, the NHS, social care providers and the army to ensure the supply of PPE over the coming weeks and months and will give our NHS and the social care sector everything they need to tackle this pandemic – including working with countries around the globe. 

‘We are also working with a number of firms to scale up production of existing UK ventilator manufacturers, as well as designing and manufacturing new products from scratch, and procuring thousands more machines from overseas. 

‘We will continue to work with European countries and others in order to make sure that we can increase the capacity within the NHS, and we will consider participating in future EU joint procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time.’    

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NHS 'discussed allowing coronavirus app to ID users via their mobile'

NHS ‘discussed allowing coronavirus app to identify people using their mobile phone ID’ in bid to beat coronavirus

  • A draft document considered whether the app should include ID ability 
  • Software will allow people to warn friends and relatives they are unwell 
  • It is being planned by NHS alongside tech giants Google and Apple 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

The NHS considered allowing a new anti-coronavirus app to identify users via through their mobile phones.

A draft document from last month considered whether the app should include the ability to reveal a person’s identity ‘if ministers judge that to be proportionate at some stage’.

The ‘contact-tracing’ software, revealed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday, would allow people who become unwell to warn those they had been in touch with ‘over the past few days’ so they can ‘act accordingly’.

NHSX, the health service’s technological arm, is working on software which uses Bluetooth technology, alongside Google and Apple, who run the two main smartphone operating systems. 

A draft document seen by the Guardian suggested that it could include the ability to examine handset identification numbers.

It also suggested it could use other apps on the phone, like Google Maps,

But it admitted it would be controversial – any such move would be likely to provoke uproar on privacy grounds. 

An NHSX spokesman today said: ‘To be very clear – there have never been plans to make use of existing apps and other functions already installed on peoples phones such as Google Maps and neither have there been plans to look to use the device ID of users in any app-based solutions.’

NHSX, the health service’s technological arm, is working on software which uses Bluetooth technology, alongside Google and Apple, who run the two main smartphone operating systems

Speaking at last night’s daily news conference Mr Hancock said:  ‘If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before (they) have symptoms so that they know and can act accordingly.

‘All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and would only be used for NHS care and research and we won’t hold it any longer than it’s needed.’ 

Lord Jonathan Evans, who led Britain’s domestic security service from 2007 to 2013, said that existing technology used in counter-terrorism and organised crime probes could be used.

He said the app is currently being tested and they are working with the world’s leading tech companies and experts in clinical safety and digital ethics ‘so that we can get this right’.

He added: ‘The more people who get involved then the better informed our response to coronavirus will be and the better we can protect the NHS.’

However, the announcement came as a former head of MI5 warned ministers there had to be powerful ‘oversight and accountability’ if the public is going to accept such an invasion of privacy.

Lord Jonathan Evans, who led Britain’s domestic security service from 2007 to 2013, said that existing technology used in counter-terrorism and organised crime probes could be used.

NHSX, the health service’s technological arm, is said to be working on software which uses bluetooth technology to warn those who download it when they have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

But he said that such measures – which amount to tracking the movements of millions of innocent British citizens, would have to be done carefully if they were not to provoke a human rights backlash on privacy grounds.

‘There must be oversight and accountability. Tough surveillance powers are acceptable where there are equally tough oversight and accountability that ensures the powers are applied lawfully, proportionately and only where necessary,’ he told the Sunday Times.

‘This is now the case for anti-terrorism and the same must apply to health. And there must be redress. 

‘People who believe their privacy has been improperly invaded need to have a way of getting their complaint independently investigated.

‘Against the background of the lockdown, people may consider the kind of surveillance needed to keep Covid-19 at bay a price worth paying, but public confidence will be retained in the longer term only if the right controls and accountability are in place.’

The Liberal Democrats have called for ‘transparency’ over how data in the new NHS coronavirus app will be used.

Acting party leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘Proposals laid out to allow people to voluntarily provide data through an NHS app to improve contact tracing are likely to be crucial in enabling the UK to move out of the lockdown at some point in the future. This is therefore a welcome step to protect public health.

‘However, there must be complete transparency around how the data will be stored and used, coupled with watertight guarantees that data will be anonymised, kept for the shortest possible time, and won’t be shared between Government departments.

‘Any proposal on the use of mobile phone data or other technology to track people must also be scrutinised properly by MPs before a final decision is made, further strengthening our argument that Parliament should be recalled urgently.’

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