Hancock: I’ve seen no evidence that medics died as a result of a lack of PPE.
During the coronavirus epidemic, Matt Hancock claimed he had seen no indication that any medics died as a result of a failure to provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE).
Despite physicians and nurses having to improvise, the Health Secretary drew flak on Thursday for telling MPs that there was never a countrywide shortage of PPE.
He admitted there were “individual challenges” to a select committee reviewing the Covid-19 response, but he suggested they were distribution difficulties rather than supply difficulties.
“We’ve looked at this, and there is no evidence that I have seen that a paucity of PPE supplies led to anyone dying of Covid,” Mr Hancock said when asked about the increased death rate among frontline medics. That’s what I’ve seen in the evidence.”
He acknowledged that “distribution was an issue in all areas” and that a supply deficit was “pretty near to happening at times.”
When asked about nurses having to use garbage bags instead of PPE, he stated, “I have admitted throughout that there were individual issues in obtaining PPE, but there was never a point where we ran out at a national level.”
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour’s shadow mental health minister and a frontline medic, accused Mr Hancock of “trying to rewrite history.”
“It’s demeaning to all the frontline personnel who didn’t have the proper masks or were given subpar gowns,” she said. They were put in danger unnecessarily.”
“Matt Hancock either has no knowledge what happened under his watch during the epidemic or he is lying through his teeth,” Rachel Harrison, national officer of the GMB union, said.
“Throughout the crisis, the government has failed our NHS members down, and a lack of suitable PPE is certainly their top issue.
“Many were afraid for their lives when treating Covid-positive patients with either insufficient or non-existent personal protective equipment.”