Health minister attempts to pin care home deaths on scientists

Helen Whately is interviewed by Sky News' Kay Burley. Photograph: Sky.

Helen Whately is interviewed by Sky News' Kay Burley. Photograph: Sky. - Credit: Archant

Health minister Helen Whately was forced to backtrack on her suggestion that deaths in care homes from coronavirus was the fault of scientists in a live television interview.

More than 12,000 people have died from care homes so far - almost 30% of the entire death toll for coronavirus in the UK.

Pressed by Kay Burley on Sky News about the numbers, Whately outlined measures the government had taken to prevent deaths in care homes, insisting it had done all it had been advised to do.

She said ministers had followed 'the scientific guidance as to what is the right thing to do', leaving presenter Burley incredulous.

She replied: 'You can't stick the on the scientists!'

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Whately snapped back: 'Well I can'.

A surprised presenter responded: 'You can stick it on the scientists?'

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But she quickly added: 'No. no. That's not what I meant to say.'

'You just said that. You just said 'I can stick this on the scientists',' pointed out Burley.

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A flustered minister, rolling her eyes and then smiling, explained: 'To be clear that is your words.

'We've taken the scientific advice and then the judgement is made about what is the right decision to take.'

'It's a bit stomach-churning to grin and laugh, isn't it? Have a touch of decorum. A sombre tone would be too humbling though, wouldn't it?' said one viewer.

'Impending boycott of Burley coming up too then? Can't have the government being asked difficult questions after all,' tweeted Geoff Whitton.

'It's quite staggering how inept Helen Whately is. Every time she opens her mouth, it's excruciating,' wrote Jon Chalk.

'Why they let her do interviews is beyond me she has no clue!' posted Kellie Fogarty.

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