Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 22nd October 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 2:23 pm, 22nd October 2020

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. He represents a seat in Wales, and this is a challenge for the NHS in all four nations of the United Kingdom. I was going to come on to this, but one thing that we have learned in the first phase is how we can do better in keeping the other services running that the NHS must and should provide, for instance for brain injuries, for cancer treatment and for heart patients. There are also those things that are not life-threatening, but that harm people’s lives—a painful hip or a cataract that needs treatment. In the first wave, as we knew so much less about this virus, many of those treatments were stopped altogether.

In the second wave, we have two things at our advantage. The first is that this is a much more regional second wave, which puts more pressure on areas such as Liverpool and Lancashire than elsewhere in the country, but that does mean that elsewhere the elective and the urgent operations can continue. The second difference is that we know much more about the virus and how it spreads, so we have separated the NHS into green sites and blues sites. Green sites are for where we have a high degree of confidence that there is no covid, using testing and asking people to isolate before going in for an operation, so that people can have more confidence. The central message across all parts of the UK is that the NHS remains open. Finally on this point, the best way we can keep the sorts of treatments that we all want to see going is to keep the virus under control.