A coronavirus vaccine could be coming later this year, the NHS Chief exec has said – but more could be done.
Sir Simon Stevens told Andrew Marr that a vaccine could be ready in between September and December this year, but even if it did that some practical questions about getting it delivered remained.
He added: “In order to deliver it we’re going to need to train up tens of thousands of NHS staff.”
There are also questions about how it will be delivered, by one dose or two, and if it will be safe to administer alongside the flu vaccine.
Sir Simon also called for people to get the flu vaccine as a way to ease pressure on the health care system as winter approached.
It came as it was reported that the Government was close to agreeing aa £500million deal with Glaxo Smith Kline and Sanofi to supply 60 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine if it proves medically significant.
The Sunday Times reported that Ministers are looking to buy the vaccine from the pharmaceuticals giants should it work in human trials, which are due to begin in September.
During his appearance on BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Sir Simon also confirmed that the government would roll out a new “Covid recovery service” within the NHS.
It will be designed to reduced the long-term impact of coronavirus on patients’ health.
Sir Simon said the NHS had to adapt to the virus and its impact being around “for years”.
The scheme will see those who suffered from the virus get a health check up and up to 12 weeks of video support – including pre-recorded physiotherapy sessions.
Sir Simon confirmed that the NHS was preparing for a seond wave of the virus this winter “particularly if it is co-existent with flu”.
He added that plans to adequately fund the UK’s social care system need to be in place within a year.
He told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show the coronavirus pandemic had shone a “very harsh spotlight” on the “resilience” of the social care system.
He said: “And if any good is to come from this, in my opinion, we must use this to resolve once and for all to actually properly resource and reform the way in which social care works in this country.
“The reality is that after at least two decades of talking about it, we do not have a fair and properly resourced adult social care system with a proper set of workforce supports.”
He added: “I would hope by the time we are sitting down this time next year on the 73rd birthday of the NHS that we have actually, as a country, been able to decisively answer the question of how are we going to fund and provide high-quality social care for my parent’s generation.”