A major trade union has argued private hospital beds should be taken over by the state to cope with the impact of coronavirus.

The GMB union and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to supply beds in “plush private hospitals” to help ease the strain on the NHS.

Mr Ashworth said it would be "completely wrong" for Boris Johnson not to use all the resources available to tackle the crisis.

He says there are at least 570 private hospitals in the UK with around 8,000 beds.

GMB union has demand answers to why unused beds have not been supplied to the NHS and claims they are being left until the wealthy falls ill.

The union's general secretary Tim Roache told PA:

"The Prime Minister says this is 'the worst public health crisis for a generation' - well he needs to start acting like it.

"It can't be right that we have plush private hospitals lying empty waiting for the wealthy to fall ill, while people are left in dying in hospitals for the want of a bed.

"Do the right thing and let these unused beds be requisitioned by the NHS to save lives."

Mr Ashworth told PA:

"The Government should leave no stone unturned when it comes to supporting our NHS.

"And should be making sure it is best equipped to protect life throughout the Covid-19 outbreak."