James Heappey Weekly Column

Following on from my last column, there have been developments in the response to Covid-19.

NHS staff, builders, carpenters and architects, the armed forces and the University of the West of England have worked tirelessly to open the NHS Nightingale Hospital early this week.

This is an unbelievable achievement as work started less than 3 weeks ago. The result is a testament to all involved in the project and as a West Country MP and Minister for the Armed Forces, I could not be prouder of them.

It will provide up to 300 intensive care beds for coronavirus patients, if local services need them. In these extraordinary times, these are hospital beds which we hope are never needed as our local hospitals continue their excellent work keeping us all safe.

This facility is welcome, and it is so important, but by staying at home we can ensure our existing local services continue to be able to cope with demand and the number of infections and deaths from coronavirus in the West Country remains as low as possible.

I know lockdown is hard, but we are seeing now in Somerset and across the country that it is working.

It is important we stick to the guidelines so we can get back to normality as soon as possible. I am speaking regularly to our local councils and will be organising more remote meetings with key stakeholders as we continue to battle this horrendous virus. We are not there yet but rest assured, we will beat this.