Bereaved Covid families demand Matt Hancock resign over care home deaths scandal

Embattled Matt Hancock faced fresh calls tonight from bereaved families and care bosses to quit now over the old folks’ home scandal.

They demanded the Health Secretary should step down in the wake of Dominic Cummings ’ bombshell evidence to Parliament this week about Mr Hancock shunting hospital patients to care homes without a Covid test.

Labour MP Richard Burgon said: “Matt Hancock should resign at once and if he doesn’t he should be sacked.

“So many lost their lives because of his reckless decision. That he thinks he can carry on as if nothing has happened is testimony to the callousness of this Government.”

Bernard Kirton
Bernard Kirton died from coronavirus acquired in hospital after being denied a virus test

David Crabtree, who saw eight residents at his care homes die after being forced to take in infected hospital patients in West Yorkshire, said: “Matt Hancock’s job was to protect us and our residents, he failed and he should go.”

From March 17 last year, as the first wave of the pandemic took hold, 25,000 frail hospital patients were sent to care homes without a test.

Mr Hancock’s disastrous decision allowed the virus to seed in the deadliest of environments as the over-80 age group is the most vulnerable to Covid-19

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings called on Hancock to be sacked when he gave evidence to a joint inquiry

On April 5, in the first of a series of searing exposures, the Sunday People warned that care homes were a Covid time bomb and should be shielded.

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Ten days later the Department of Health suddenly changed tack and said patients being discharged into care homes should be tested.

But by then it was too late.

Dennis Ely,
Care home resident Dennis Ely, 82, caught Covid after five patients were discharged from hospital without being tested

The catastrophic failure helped contribute to more than 20,000 care home deaths linked to Covid in the first wave.

The PM’s former top aide Mr Cummings accused Mr Hancock of “categorically” telling Boris Johnson in March that hospital patients would be tested before being discharged to care homes.

But the policy was not put in place until the Prime Minister returned from his own Covid hospital battle in mid-April.

Mr Johnson reportedly asked Mr Hancock: “What the hell happened?” over testing.

Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which represents 4,000 families who have lost loved ones, said: “The picture painted this week has been that the Government threw those in care homes to the wolves and then lied about it.

Jo Goodman,
Jo Goodman, 31, who lost her dad Stuart, 72, on April 2, accused the government of paying lip service to victims’ loved-ones

“There must be an immediate inquiry into Matt Hancock’s handling for the full truth to be uncovered.”

Care boss Mr Crabtree added: “If there’s any truth that he lied to Boris Johnson about testing patients before they were sent to us, then he should be done.”

Mr Hancock said his recollection of events was that he only promised to introduce testing when capacity increased. In response to Mr Cummings’s claims, he told MPs: “We followed the clinical advice on the appropriate way forward.”

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MP Munira Wilson, the Lib Dem health spokeswoman, said: “If Matt Hancock has been found to have lied to the House of Commons he will have to go.”

Professor Paul Hunter
Professor Paul Hunter said the Government should have known what was going on

Victims of the no-test policy include Bernard Kirton, 84, a former mayor in Whitnash, Warks, who fell ill with Covid shortly after being sent from Warwick hospital to a care home on April 2 last year.

He died five days later.

During the first wave, Mr Hancock repeatedly claimed he threw a “protective ring” around care homes.

Mr Kirton’s daughter Fiona, 60, said yesterday: “He’s a complete liar.”

Susan Mckinney
Director Of Operations at Wellburn Care Homes Ltd Susan Mckinney

Dennis Ely, 82, caught Covid after five hospital patients were discharged into his Ipswich care home without being tested. He died on Good Friday last year.

His daughter Lisa, 48, said: “Matt Hancock needs to go – my dad’s death was preventable.”

Tonight the Department for Health and Social Care said: “The Health and Social Care Secretary’s focus throughout this pandemic has been on saving lives. Guidance for the care sector was first published in February 2020.

“At this time, the scientific understanding did not suggest asymptomatic individuals posed a significant risk in terms of transmission.

“Those with symptoms would have been tested on admission or during a hospital stay and were isolated accordingly.

“Further guidance was issued on 19 March 2020 setting out how we would continue to support the safe discharge of people who no longer needed to stay in hospital.”

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Sheila Lamb
Sheila Lamb caught coronavirus in her care home

Amos Waldman, 41, called for Matt Hancock to go after losing his grandmother to Covid.

Sheila Lamb, 94, whose son Nigelis Amos’s dad, died in a north London care home in April last year.

Amos, a barrister from Heaton Chapel, Greater Manchester, said: “Every time Matt Hancock mentions the protective ring it’s like being punched in the gut – because it’s untrue.

“The only ring around care homes was to protect us from seeing the horror of what was going on. This rewriting of history concerns me.”

Helen Wightman
Helen Wightman died last May when she caught coronavirus in her care home

The son of a woman who died of Covid in her care home 12 months ago said Matt Hancock must go.

Shocked Alan Wightman added as he mourned his mother Helen: “He has repeatedly told untruths.

“We knew there was never a protective ring around care homes and we know from SAGE minutes that scientists warned on asymptomatic transmission as early as January 2020.

”Alan, 62, from Bedale, North Yorks, went on: “For Hancock to say he didn’t know is nonsense.

“They did know. They just did nothing about it. Hancock is incompetent and should go.”


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