MORE needs to be done to help the self-employed during the coronavirus crisis - and a lack of funding has left the NHS less ready to fight the pandemic.

These are the views of Labour's Keir Starmer, who met with party members in the south west and spoke to the Adver afterwards.

The shadow Brexit secretary welcomed the government's support package to help workers and businesses but suggested that more could still be done.

He said: "We had argued for the protection of income and wages to make sure something like the Danish model was introduced - and that was what was introduced.

“I’d like to see the government go further – there needs to be much greater conditionality on loans and grants. Loans to businesses should be made on the basis that jobs and wages are protected.

“I think the government also needs to go further on helping the self-employed and those on zero hours contracts, and increase rates of pay for statutory sick pay – many people are going to struggle on £94 a week.

“This is said in the spirit of constructive criticism. The role of the opposition is vital. We are putting difficult and searching questions to the government not to score party political points but to ask the questions that the public need answering which will lead to better decision-making.

“When the government get it right, we’ll say so – and I think they did get a lot right – but there needs to be more done."

Hospitals like Great Western Hospital had only just finished dealing with the pressures of a busy winter, often more than 90 per cent full with few beds to spare, before the coronavirus reached the UK.

The Adver asked if

Mr Starmer added: "There’s no escaping the fact that the NHS has not had the funding and resources it has needed in the last 10 years.

“There’s no escaping the fact that the reforms of the NHS have not worked and therefore the decision-making isn’t in the space it should have been, so the resilience is not what it should be.

“That’s one of the struggles we are facing and, when this is over and we look at how this was handled, that’s one of the issues we will have to come back to.

“If you take your money out of your NHS, public services and local authorities for 10 years, it is inevitable that when something like the coronavirus hits, the resilience you have got is much thinner than it could have been.

“The government could not have foreseen this but the lack of funding will have an impact.”