LONDON — U.Okay. Well being Secretary Matt Hancock at the moment denied claims by Boris Johnson’s former prime adviser Dominic Cummings that he deceived the prime minister in regards to the dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hancock has been the topic of a sequence of incendiary allegations from the ex-No.10 aide, who instructed MPs on the joint science and well being committee final month that the well being secretary had lied about essential facets of pandemic preparedness and had overseen a “felony, disgraceful” testing technique.
Showing earlier than the identical group of MPs on Thursday, Hancock defended the U.Okay.’s testing coverage for residents and workers in care properties and denied that the nation had confronted a “nationwide scarcity” of non-public protecting gear.
England’s care properties have been significantly exhausting hit by the virus, and the federal government has been criticized for discharging hospitalized residents into care properties earlier than being examined.
“We set out a coverage that folks can be examined when assessments have been out there,” Hancock stated. “After which I set about constructing the testing capability to have the ability to ship on that.”
Hancock additionally rejected Cummings’ declare that he had sought in charge NHS chief Simon Stevens and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for shortages of non-public protecting gear, telling the committee: “That’s not a good recollection of the scenario.”
And he stated: “There was by no means a degree to which NHS suppliers could not get entry to PPE, however there have been enormous challenges.”
In accordance with Hancock, these included asking the Treasury to pay way more for PPE when the world was scrambling for restricted provides.
“I do not deny in any respect there have been challenges in particular person areas,” he stated, however added: “There was by no means a nationwide scarcity of PPE due to the motion that we took.”
Greater than 120,000 folks have died in Britain as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, whereas the U.Okay. has additionally confronted one of many worst financial hits, in response to the OECD.
Cummings’ claims about Hancock additionally got here beneath scrutiny on the committee session, as science and expertise committee chairman Greg Clark stated the committee had but to obtain proof it had requested to corroborate them, “nor any clarification as to why that has not been out there.”
With out corroborating proof, he stated, Cummings’ allegations “should be counted as unproven.” Hancock stated it was “telling” that Cummings had but to supply such proof.
Cummings instructed the committee final month that he had tried to have Hancock fired “15-20 occasions,” and Hancock stated he knew that to be true as a result of “any person briefed the newspapers; I now have a greater concept of who it was.”
Hancock stated he had “no concept” how Cummings’ dispute with him had developed, however added: “One of the best factor to say is that authorities has operated higher over the previous six months” — or since Cummings left.
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