• Fri. Mar 5th, 2021

Hancock under fire for claiming there was ‘never a PPE shortage’

ByDNP

Feb 23, 2021

The health secretary’s comments were called a ‘lie’ and an ‘insult’ to frontline staff (Picture: PA/Getty)

Matt Hancock has faced outrage after claiming there was ‘never’ a national personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage during the pandemic.

The health secretary’s remarks were described by Labour as an ‘insult’ to frontline health and care workers who were forced to use ‘inadequate’ PPE, with some fashioning gowns out of bin bags.

His comments came amid questioning over a High Court ruling last week found he had broken the law over Covid-related contracts.

Mr Hancock told Sky News: ‘If I had my time again, absolutely I’d do exactly the same thing again. Exactly the same thing.

‘What I care about is making sure people have the protection they need. I care deeply about the staff of the NHS and the staff who work in social care and I care deeply that they have everything they need.

‘It was really tough but there wasn’t a national shortage at any point. There were difficulties in individual areas but there was never a national shortage.’

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In further interviews today, he reiterated that ‘we were very close’ to a national shortage and it was difficult to deliver PPE ‘in the teeth of a national pandemic’.

However, he insisted it never got to that point as his team distributed supplies successfully – despite health and social care workers complaining of desperate shortages across the country which put their lives at risk.

Palliative care doctor, Rachel Clarke, called Mr Hancock’s remarks ‘categorically not true’.

Dr Clarke wrote on Twitter: ‘I say this as someone who *begged* local veterinary practices and schools for masks and visors.

‘Whose hospice nearly closed down through lack of PPE. This was happening up and down the country. It was horrendous.

‘The failures to provide PPE at the time were bad enough – but to lie about it now? Well that’s inexcusable.’

John Peek responded: ‘I’m a dentist and early in the pandemic, I gave visors and goggles to doctors who were working in A&E with totally inadequate PPE.’

Doctor Dominic Pimenta, chairman of the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, said in a thread that the NHS ‘ran out of the correct PPE nearly instantly in many areas’.

He wrote: ‘Covid is airborne. Nearly 1000 U.K. healthcare workers have died as a consequence of inadequate PPE, one of the worst rates in the entire world.’

Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, said: ‘It is an insult to claim there was no shortage of PPE.

‘Many frontline workers had to ration protective equipment, putting themselves at risk.

‘Lots of it was inadequate and poorly fitting, and some NHS staff had to make gowns themselves from bin bags.

Mr Hancock’s comments came after a High Court ruling over Covid-related contracts (Picture: Getty)

‘The fact is, it was a smash-and-grab for Tory donors and friends. And protecting workers who were putting themselves in harm’s way to look after people seems to have been an afterthought.’

The health secretary’s comments came amid questioning over last week’s High Court ruling over his department’s failure to publish details of coronavirus-related contracts on time.

He insisted the case was not over the ‘substance’ of the contracts but because they were published ‘on average around a couple of weeks late’.

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