At a Downing Street news conference on Friday, the Prime Minister will say the funds are available immediately to keep the temporary Nightingale hospitals ready and secure private hospital beds for NHS patients with serious cases of the infection. He is also expected to step up his appeal for Britons to make a safe return to factories and offices with the Government set to drop the advice to work from home where necessary. Speaking ahead of the announcement, a Downing Street spokesman said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of the British people, the virus is under control and we have eased restrictions in a cautious, phased way.
“But the Prime Minister is clear that now is not the time for complacency, and we must make sure our NHS is battle ready for winter.
“Tomorrow, he will set out a broad package of measures to protect against both a possible second wave, and to ease winter pressures and keep the public safe.”
Mr Johnson’s cash injection for the NHS in England will also help ensure hospitals and clinics can continue to carry out routine medical treatments even if the rate of coronavirus infections rises again during colder weather.
A new chapter of his COVID-19 recovery strategy “road map” will be published today to reassure the public that returning to work can be done safely.
The flu vaccine is currently free to those deemed most at risk, including pregnant women, people aged over 65, carers and primary school children, with health chiefs due to set out expanded eligibility criteria shortly.
The Government is also promising extra funds for the NHS’s enhanced discharge arrangements to ensure patients can be quickly and safely discharged from hospitals and to free up beds for other patients.
Despite the slump in new coronavirus infections following the national lockdown, ministers are aware this winter will present further challenges because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and impact of other seasonal infections such as flu.
They are also concerned that a rise in flu cases will put a strain on the NHS Test-and-Trace programme because flu and other virus can have similar symptoms to coronavirus.
A new Government advertising campaign will be launched shortly to increase awareness of eligibility for testing and access to tests at local walk-in sites.
Officials said ministers have been studying a series of possible winter scenarios to inform planning and assessing experience of healthcare systems overseas.
A series of exercises to “stress test” the readiness of the NHS for the winter and an audit of supplies of personal protective equipment are also being undertaken.