The former UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has been accused of rejecting key advice on care homes during the pandemic. The Daily Telegraph obtained WhatsApp messages showing he ignored advice to test all care home residents. The accusations add to the debate about the government’s handling of care homes during the pandemic.
According to Telegraph, the issue of testing for care home residents was discussed in WhatsApp messages between Matt Hancock and his aides in April 2020. The messages reportedly reveal that the Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty, recommended testing for everyone going into care homes. However, by the end of the day, Hancock had apparently changed his mind and decided to isolate all those going into care from hospitals, stating that he did not think community commitment added anything and that it would only muddy the waters.
“Isolate all going into care from hospital, I do not think the community commitment adds anything and it muddies the waters,” Hancock said in a message.
However, a spokesperson for Hancock has dismissed these claims by stating, “The stolen messages have been doctored to create a false story that Matt rejected clinical advice on care home testing. That is flat wrong.”
Isabel Oakeshott, co-author of the book Pandemic Diaries with former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, has taken the material he provided and turned it against him, using it to fuel a media firestorm.
The situation has left many feeling conflicted between sympathy for Hancock and disbelief. While the former UK Health Secretary claims that Oakeshott did not share his views on lockdowns, he also handed over private messages that have now been turned against him. His decision to provide such private information to a co-author is also being called into question.
“The country deserves better,” said Sir Keir Starmer in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
“The Covid inquiry has already cost the taxpayer £85 million and hasn’t heard from a single government minister yet. So can the Prime Minister assure the house no more delays, the inquiry will have whatever support it needs to report by the end of the year?”
The reason why the accusations against former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock are significant is because they add to the ongoing debate about the government’s handling of care homes during the pandemic.
There has been intense scrutiny over whether the government made the right decisions at the right time, and the revelations in the Daily Telegraph suggest that there was advice to test everyone entering care homes, which was apparently ignored.
These differing accounts and allegations add to the controversy surrounding the government’s response to the pandemic. Further details and developments on this story are likely to emerge in the coming days.