UK health minister rejects allegations over COVID-19 failures made by former PM aide

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British health minister Matt Hancock rejected allegations by a former top aide of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying there was never a national shortage of protective equipment and the government followed clinical guidance on care homes.

Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings last month said Hancock had repeatedly lied in government meetings on COVID-19, and called for him to be sacked. Hancock has denied the allegations made by Cummings.

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“It is telling that no evidence has been provided yet,” Hancock told a parliamentary select committee hearing on Thursday, adding he had never told Johnson anything he knew to be untrue.

Cummings said Hancock had said people would be tested before being discharged into care homes, which then didn’t happen.

On Thursday, Hancock said the policy was that people would be tested when tests were available.

“On care home policy throughout we followed the clinical advice,” he said.

He also defended his record on procuring supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Despite local challenges, and I don’t deny at all there were challenges in individual areas, there was never a national shortage of PPE,” he said.

Cummings said Hancock had said that all patients got the treatment they needed during the first peak of the pandemic which was contrary to briefings from the government’s health experts.

Hancock said he had checked with the officials in question and stood by his words.

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“I did absolutely say, both in private and in public, that everybody got the COVID treatment that they needed,” Hancock said.

“I’ve taken the trouble to check with the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser, there was no point at which I was advised that people were not getting the treatment they needed.”

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