Matt Hancock told to be ‘more human’ after being confronted by son of NHS doctor who died

Health minister Matt Hancock answering questions on the Nick Ferrari show

Health minister Matt Hancock answering questions on the Nick Ferrari show - Credit: Archant

Health minister Matt Hancock has refused to apologise for his handling of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply, despite pleas from a son of a dead NHS doctor.

The caller, known as Intisar, said his father confronted the Tory MP on LBC's Nick Ferrari breakfast programme.

His father had written to the department of health calling for more PPE while he was battling with Covid-19. It was a request which Intisar says was ignored.

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He asked the health minister: 'Do you not regret taking my dad's concerns, my eleven-year-old sister's concerns, and my wife's husband's concerns, seriously enough?'

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Apologising, Hancock said the government was doing all it could to learn from its mistakes and revealed the department was reviewing each health worker death individually.

Not pleased with the response, presenter Nick Ferrari weighed in: 'Do you accept now that mistakes were made, no withstanding the fact that you've moved around a billion bits of kit to over 50,000 sites, which is no mean feat. Do you accept, Mr secretary of state, that mistakes were made?'

Hancock replied: 'There are things that we've changed as we've gone through this both because we learnt more about the virus and also because some things did not work out as expected. One example was changing the rules on who could attend funerals.' The minister described guidelines prohibiting family from attending the burial of loved ones who had died from the virus 'awful'.

Ferrari continued: 'Will you at least say that mistakes were made with the provision of kit?'

'What I say about the provision of PPE is that a huge amount of people are doing everything they can and have done since the start of the crisis,' Hancock replied. 'Of course, this is a very, very complicated logistical effort. I do not want to play down the enormous efforts of many thousands of people who are working every hours to solve this.'

Unsatisfied with the response, Itisar called on the minister to be more 'human': 'The public isn't expecting the government to handle this perfectly... we're expecting progression. We just want you to openly acknowledge that there have been mistakes in handling the virus, especially for me and so many families that have lost loved ones as a result of this virus and as a result of the government not handling it seriously enough.

'Openly acknowledging your mistake is not an admission of guilt, it's genuinely making you seem more human.'

Hancock said the government was 'learning about how to do these things better' and was listening to the concerns of frontline workers.

BBC's Panorama uncovered that the government failed to act on expert medical advice calling for an increase of gowns, gloves, and respirator masks as far back as 2009.

The government began ordering the essential kit in March this year while removing Covid-19 from the country's register of most dangerous diseases, the High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) list. They also amended guidance on wearing PPE, encouraging NHS nurses and doctors to re-use the medical kit for several consultations.

NHS staff and care workers have been demanding the government boost the supply of protective equipment for weeks after it emerged it had failed to keep stockpiles at sufficient levels.

So far, 82 NHS staff and 16 care workers have died from the disease in hospital, but the true number is expected to be considerably higher.

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