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COVID: Your thoughts on the rising cases

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said there had been a “very significant increase in demand”.

Pressed on the issue, she said “we do need to have more capacity in that call handling part of the process”, adding: “It’s part of the £55 million that we’ve given to ambulance services to help them now invest in additional resilience over the winter period.”

She added that the NHS is in for a “tough winter” and a rise in Covid patients would have an effect on how much other, planned care could be carried out.

Elsewhere in the Commons, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth highlighted lengthy waits for patients trying to secure a hospital bed and examples of ambulances backed up outside hospitals.

He said: “This is an NHS not just under pressure but an NHS under water. What is he personally going to do to avert a winter crisis of misery for patients?”

Mr Javid replied: “We can all see this wherever we live, our constituents are seeing this.

“It is picking up over the winter and usually winters are tough for the NHS but this winter, I think, is going to be particularly tough and the Government has set out the reasons why – the pandemic is still ongoing, this flu season will be particularly tough, I think, and that’s why we’re having, for example, the largest flu vaccination programme alongside the Covid programme this year.”


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