Patients hit by coronavirus to be treated for free in private hospitals if NHS is overwhelmed, Boris Johnson vows – The Sun

PATIENTS stricken by the coronavirus will be treated for free in private hospitals if the NHS is over-run, the PM vowed last night.

Boris Johnson has ordered officials to buy up private clinic beds to boost capacity if the killer virus quickly spreads.

And he will appeal to suppliers to step up production of medical kit — including life-support machines.

The two-pronged action came as NHS beds across the country filled up with coronavirus sufferers and the UK death toll hit 21.

There are fears some hospitals will be forced to stop treating the most severely-ill victims to make room for those with better survival chances.

Hospitals are quickly increasing their intensive care capacity, though doctors say wards are already reaching breaking point.

But Mr Johnson has given NHS chiefs the go-ahead to approach private clinics should they be needed.

It will help ensure all elderly or vulnerable patients are treated.

NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens said: “The scale of the challenge means we can’t do this alone. On Monday we will be providing further operational instructions to all hospitals.”

In a further move, the PM will ask leading British manufacturers of ventilators to join the national effort.

In a conference call with bosses including Unipart — which helps manage the NHS logistics chain — he will confirm the government will snap up the £7,000-a-piece machines.

Unipart chairman John Neill said: “There are a lot of people working at great speed on this crucial initiative.”

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