Matt Hancock was left red-faced in the House of Commons after revealing a Tory MP was pregnant before checking whether it was widely known.
The health secretary paused before congratulating Tory MP Alicia Kearns on her pregnancy, through fear that the information had not yet been made public.
Kearns laughed and confirmed it was now widely known.
The MP asked Hancock: “Pregnancy can be something exciting but also a traumatic experience in a woman’s life. That’s why this week I launched a campaign with the Mail on Sunday calling on all NHS Trusts to ensure partners support pregnant women at all scans and all stages of labour. So, please can my right honourable friend confirm that women across this country have the government’s support and that he will push NHS Trusts to stand by pregnant women.”
Hancock replied: “I strongly support my honourable friend and I congratulate her on,” before breaking into a stutter and looking at the ground, adding: “Well, I hope her pregnancy is public knowledge because it is now.”
The chamber erupted in laughter as a red-faced Hancock offered his congratulations to the mum-to-be and assured the MP the new guidance had been issued to hospitals.
“It has been a pleasure to work with her on the campaign to make sure all hospitals can follow that new guidance and make sure partners can be there through each stage of pregnancy in a Covid-secure way,” he continued.
The question was a change of pace for Hancock he was summed to answer an urgent question on his government’s coronavirus testing system.
Reports have emerged of people being told to travel hundreds of miles away for testing while Labour said no tests were available in virus “hotspots” over the weekend.
Hospital bosses warned that a lack of tests for NHS workers was putting services at risk.
Tory MP and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt asked Hancock if his self-imposed deadline to have testing capacity ramped up by next week would be met.
“Last week the health secretary said he expected to have this problem solved in two weeks. Since then, in my constituency, I have had two Farnham residents sent to Bristol for tests, a councillor sent to the Isle of White for her test, and a teacher who tested positive who had to wait a week for her results. So, is the secretary of state, given the efforts his department are making, still confident in a week’s time we will have this problem solved?”
Hancock replied: “We will be able to solve this problem in a matter of weeks.”
The health secretary said the testing system faced an “enormous challenge” after a “sharp rise” in people had begun seeking a test.
Hancock said the government begun prioritising who is eligible for a swab and will publish an updated prioritisation list of who will be at the front of the queue for tests.
It comes after anyone suffering symptoms, regardless of where they work or live, were urged to book tests in recent months.