The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has explained the role Liverpool and its main hospital will play in the Coronavirus operation.

Mr Hancock was quizzed in Parliament about how the Royal Liverpool Hospital will work with the ongoing operation to quarantine those who have arrived in the UK from the Chinese city of Wuhan in accommodation at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

As previously reported by the ECHO, the Health Secretary confirmed that the Wirral location had been chosen because of the availability of the NHS accommodation and because of its close proximity to the Royal Liverpool Hospital, where there is a specialist infectious diseases unit.

The coronavirus quarantine convoy arrives at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.
The coronavirus quarantine convoy arrives at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.

He was asked about the plans by Liverpool MP Maria Eagle, who said she had not been given any information about the operation and had to read about it in the ECHO.

She said: "It was reported in the Liverpool Echo that any of those people that are at Arrowe Park at the moment in quarantine who fall ill, and we hope that none of them will, but that they will be treated at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

"I'm sure that's right and correct but as a consequence I've had many enquiries from constituents about what this means and safety issues and have had absolutely no communications whatsoever from Public Health England, from Ministers, from anybody so it's hard for me to provide reassurance to my constituents.

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"Can he make sure that MPs from a broader range of places that are near to the Wirral can get this information from Ministers, from Public Health England in order that we can be on the frontline of reassuring our constituents."

Responding, Mr Hancock said he will be arranging a full briefing for MPs from the Chief Medical Officer.

On the specific issue of the Royal, he added: "The Royal Liverpool is one of the best hospitals in the world for dealing with these sorts of diseases.

The Royal Liverpool University Hospital

"It is one of the hospitals that we identified in advance to be one of the places that people will be taken to should they have coronavirus and was one of the advantages of the use of the facilities that were available at Arrowe Park was because of that proximity."

He aimed to reassure local people in Liverpool and Wirral about the process that would be used to transport anyone presenting with symptoms between the two Merseyside hospitals.

He added: "Of course, the transit from A to B will be in secure conditions so that nobody will be affected on the way and people can rest assured that if there is a case in Arrowe Park in the isolation area, we already have the plans in place to get those people to Liverpool into the hospital in a way that will not affect residents nearby.

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He added: "Residents nearby should frankly be very proud of their hospital and residents frankly should be very proud of their hospital."

Speaking afterwards, Ms Eagle made the point that the existing Royal building is crumbling and should have been closed down three years ago - with the replacement hospital still years away because of the faults of government-appointed contractor Carillion.

She said: "It’s ironic that the Minister recognises the world class work carried out by staff at the Royal and has swiftly put our hospital on the front line of the Coronavirus response given how slow the Government have been when it comes to saving our new Royal hospital building from the mess  of the Carrillion collapse.”