The NHS must get back to its pre-pandemic capacity levels to prevent further damaging lockdowns and allow patients to be treated for other conditions, Esther McVey has warned.
Figures from the Department of Health show more than 6,000 beds were cut from hospitals up and down the country, in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
The Tatton MP said capacity needed to be reinstated, especially given most adults had been double vaccinated.
Speaking in Parliament she said: “Given that the number of hospital beds has fallen by over 6,000 since the pandemic, figures sent to me from his department, will the minister assure me that proper additional capacity will be built back into the NHS as part of his plan rather than resorting to hugely damaging lockdowns and restrictions.”
Ms McVey, who is against further lockdowns, fears delay in reinstating the beds will also create other health crises at the expense of Covid, including rising cancer cases and longer waiting lists for operations.
In response, as he updated MPs on latest Covid figures Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “She (Esther) is right to raise the importance of capacity in the NHS and she will know that the reason for the fall in capacity in the first place was to control the spread of the virus, to make sure that those in hospital that are naturally vulnerable in any case are protected from the virus.
“At the moment hospitals will have what I refer to as green channels and red channels, trying to segregate between those that have the virus and not. This is something I can assure her that the NHS is keeping under review and would like to get rid of this segregation as soon as possible and when it does it will increase capacity.”
Ms McVey said she will keep up pressure on health ministers to ensure her constituents receive needed treatment in a timely manner.