Thursday 27 May 2021 / 12:14 PM Jonathan Ashworth

Labour demands answers from the Government over the ‘tens of thousands’ of needless deaths

Labour demands answers from the Government over the ‘tens of thousands’ of needless deaths as Jonathan Ashworth condemns the Government’s handling of the pandemic   

Matt Hancock has failed to explain the Government’s failure to prevent ‘tens of thousands’ of needless deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, when appearing before parliament today. 

The Secretary of State was summoned to the House of Commons by Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, who demanded that Hancock account for the Government’s lack of preparedness going into the pandemic, his decisions on testing, and PPE, and the failure to protect people in care homes. 

This comes following testimony from the Prime Minister’s former Chief Advisor, Dominic Cummings, to the Health and Science & Technology Committees yesterday, who singled Mr Hancock out for criticism, alleging that he lied to the public and Government colleagues. 

Demanding ‘honest answers’ from the Health Secretary, Ashworth said:   

“Isn’t the truth that his failures on testing and PPE contributed to Covid spreading like ‘wildfire’ in care homes? 

“It is clear to the country and the families who lost loved ones that we have been let down by this Government, this Prime Minister, and this Health Secretary. 

“The truth matters. The least these families and the country now deserve is clear answers from the Health Secretary and Prime Minister today.”  

ENDS 

 

  

Notes to Editors: 

  

Full text of Urgent Question Speech 

  

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY*** 

  

Mr Speaker 

  

The allegations could not be more serious– 

  

That the Prime Minister is unfit for office and that his inaction meant tens of thousands needlessly died. 

  

That the Health Secretary is accused of misleading his colleagues and our country: on our preparedness and lack of protection of people in our care homes.  

  

The allegations from Cummings are either true and if so the Secretary of State stands in breach of the ministerial code and the Nolan principles, or if they are false, the Prime Minister brought a fantasist and a liar into the heart of Downing Street. 

  

Which is it? 

  

Families who have lost loved ones deserve full open and honest answers from him today. 

  

Isn’t he ashamed  that while  he promised a ‘protective shield’ around care homes, in fact over 30,000 care home residents have died. 

  

Why were 25,000 elderly people discharged from hospitals into care homes without any test? 

  

Did he tell Downing Street in March that people discharged from hospital had been tested, even though wasn’t until 15th April that there was a requirement for testing to take place? 

  

In public he claims little was known of asymptomatic transmission so testing wasn’t considered necessary. 

But SAGE in January flagged evidence of asymptomatic transmission. A Lancet study in February flagged it. 

On March 5th the CMO said “there may well be a lot of people who are infected and have no symptoms” 

  

So why didn’t he insist on a precautionary approach and test all going into care homes? 

  

On 6th May he claimed in this house that for elderly people in hospital, it was “safer for them to go to a care home”. 

  

12,000 people died in care homes in these early months. How he can justify that comment? 

  

In April he told the House “What is important is that infection control procedures are in place in that care home” but care homes, like the NHS, struggled with the most desperate PPE shortages. 

  

While he was telling us in March in here that PPE supplies were “extensive”, in Downing Street he was blaming Simon Stevens for the lack of PPE? He was responsible for PPE but the NAO said supplies were inadequate in March. 850 Health care workers died. How many deaths could have been avoided if PPE was in place? 

  

Isn’t the truth that his failures on testing and PPE contributed to covid spreading like ‘wildfire’ in care homes? 

   

It is clear to the country and the families who lost loved ones that we have been let down by this Government, this Prime Minister, and this Health Secretary. 

  

The truth matters. The least these families and the country now deserve is clear answers from the Health Secretary and Prime Minister today. 

  

Ends