PM praises NHS staff who ‘saved my life, no question’ as he leaves hospital

Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised NHS staff for saving his life as he was discharged from hospital a week after being admitted with persistent coronavirus symptoms.

The PM, who will not be returning to work immediately on doctors' orders and will instead head to his Chequers country residence to recuperate, paid a glowing tribute to the team who cared for him.

In a video statement released on social media, Mr Johnson said: "I have today left hospital after a week in which the NHS has saved my life, no question.

"It's hard to find the words to express my debt – but before I come to that, I want to thank everyone in the entire UK for the effort and the sacrifice you have made and are making."

His fiancee Carrie Symonds also tweeted in praise of the "incredible" staff at St Thomas' Hospital in London.

Ms Symonds, who is expecting the couple's baby, said: "I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you.

"There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones.

"Thank you also to everyone who sent such kind messages of support. Today I'm feeling incredibly lucky."

The news about the PM came as the death was announced of Goodies star Tim Brooke-Taylor, 79, who had contracted coronavirus.

Tributes flooded in for the actor and comedian, who was described by Jack Dee as a "charming, quick witted and a hugely skilful comic".

Dee said: "It's always heartbreaking to lose a loved one, but these times have created the cruellest of circumstances for that to happen in."

Tim Brooke-Taylor
Tim Brooke-Taylor holding his OBE ion 2011 (PA)

The UK hospital death toll of patients with Covid-19 was poised to pass 10,000 on Sunday as the row about availability of protective equipment for health care workers continued to rage.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma's said health staff should not be put in a position where they have to consider withdrawing care due to a lack of protection.

Mr Sharma's comments follow continued criticism of the Government's supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff on the frontline of the pandemic.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has piled more pressure on ministers after it urged members to refuse to treat patients as a "last resort" if adequate PPE was not provided.

Mr Sharma said demand for PPE was well beyond anything like what it would be outside of a pandemic and that there was a "unified effort" to deliver more supplies.

Coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals in England
(PA Graphics)

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer backed the RCN's decision and said ministers' ambition on PPE supply "isn't being matched".

Meanwhile, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has confirmed that Parliament will return to action on April 21 as planned following its four-week Easter break.

It follows pressure from Labour to stick to the scheduled return so MPs can probe ministers on their handling of the Covid-19 crisis, along with seeking answers regarding a possible exit strategy from the lockdown measures.

Mr Sharma indicated there would be no lifting of the restrictions on movement until the Scientific Advisory Group (Sage) has met this week.

"We are starting to see these measures work but they will stay in place until we have advice from Sage in terms of the evidence that is out there," he said.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said the UK looked set to have "one of the worst, if not the worst" death rate in Europe.

He was critical of the Government's decision to stop community testing early on during the virus' spread, saying it could have provided a "critical six to eight week" buffer to allow the NHS to be better prepared.

On Saturday, the Department of Health said a total of 9,875 people had died in hospital in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus as of 5pm on Friday, up by 917 from the same point on Thursday.