Coronavirus: Matt Hancock repeatedly refuses to accept PPE failures after being confronted by dead doctor’s son
NHS consultant’s son asks health secretary to issue public apology
Matt Hancock has repeatedly refused to accept mistakes have been made in the availability of personal protective equipment, after being confronted by the son of an NHS doctor who died after contracting coronavirus.
Intisar Chowdhury, the son of a consultant who died earlier this month, asked the health secretary live on LBC radio whether he regretted not taking his father’s warnings over vital medical kit seriously enough.
Days before his death, Abdul Mabud Chowdhury warned Boris Johnson about the lack of protective gear for frontline NHS workers, and asked him to secure equipment “urgently” in a social media post.
Yesterday the health secretary announced at the No 10 press conference that families of NHS staff and social care workers who have died after contracting coronavirus will receive £60,000 from the government.
During the pandemic, 82 NHS staff and 16 social care workers have lost their lives after being infected with Covid-19.
In response to Intisar Chowdhury, Mr Hancock told LBC on Tuesday: “I’m really sorry about your dad’s death. I’ve seen the comments you’ve made and what you’ve said in public and I think it’s very brave of you to be speaking out in public.
“We took very, very seriously what your father said and we’ve been working around the clock to ensure that there is enough protective equipment.”
“In the case of anyone who works in the NHS who has died from coronavirus – we look into it in each case to find out the reasons where they might have caught it and what lessons to learn,” he added. “Absolutely it’s very important these lessons are learnt. What I can assure you is we took very seriously your father’s concerns that he raised.”
Pressing again for an apology, Intisar Chowdhury added: “The public is not expecting the government to handle this perfectly – none of us are expecting perfection, we’re expecting progression.
“We just want you to openly acknowledge that there have been mistakes in handling the virus, especially to me and to so many families that have really lost loved ones as a result of this virus and probably as a result of the government not handling it seriously enough.
“Openly acknowledging your mistake is not an admission of guilt, it is genuinely just making you seem more human.”
Mr Hancock replied: “I think that it is very important that we’re constantly learning about how to do these things better and I think listening to the voices on the front line is a very, very important part of how we improve.”
When quizzed by the LBC presenter Nick Ferrari on whether mistakes were made on the delivery of vital medical kit, Mr Hancock highlighted that a “huge amount of people” have been doing everything they can since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
“Of course this a very complicated logistical effort but I don’t want to play down the enormous efforts of many thousands of people who are working every hour that there is trying to solve the problem.”