Addressing the challenges of coronavirus

The day after his televised speech to the nation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown measures, the Prime Minister came to the House of Commons to update Parliament and take questions from MPs.

I continued my pursuance of the Government directly with Boris Johnson on the need for support to go further to address the challenges to the aviation industry posed by this pandemic.

This is a source of employment, trade, and economic prosperity. Support for this sector is important not just for the Crawley economy, but Britain’s place as a global, island trading nation.

Indeed, it is about far more than those airlines which are household names. It is the people who work for those airlines, as well as other airport staff such as security workers and baggage handlers.

With this in mind, I have led further representations to the Prime Minister on behalf of a group of West Sussex MPs seeking assistance for this industry.

The knock-on effects of COVID-19 go far beyond any one community alone; the Crawley and Gatwick aviation sector impacts people throughout our county and further afield.

As it happens, my first mention of coronavirus in Parliament took place in January during a Commons debate on the Government’s NHS Funding Bill.

This legislation includes the first ever commitment to enshrine in law a multi-year NHS funding settlement, with an extra £33.9 billion per year by 2023-24.

In the months that followed this, the Government committed to providing any extra resource the NHS needs to tackle COVID-19, with over £14 billion from the Coronavirus emergency response fund for public services, including the NHS and local authorities involved in the fight against the virus.

I am having continued briefings with Crawley and Sussex NHS management and welcome the news that since March, Crawley Hospital has been upgraded with 28 extra beds that are now operational for patient care. In addition, the number of 999/111 call staff locally has been significantly increased.

Henry Smith MP