All about British PM's tiff with his health secretary over care home fiasco
- Boris Johnson launched an expletive-filled rant at his health secretary, Matt Hancock
- Johnson was enraged to discover elderly people had been released from the hospital still infected
- As per media reports, Hancock was cautioned about the risk of releasing hospital patients before testing them for COVID-19
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched an expletive-filled rant at his health secretary, Matt Hancock, for deceiving him about COVID-19 testing at senior care facilities, at the height of the epidemic in the UK.
Johnson became enraged after recovering from his own COVID struggle last year to discover elderly people had been released from the hospital still infected, British media reported.
According to the Observer, UK Secretary of State for Health Hancock had been cautioned about the risk of releasing hospital patients into care homes before even testing them for COVID, but failed to act.
An insider told The Sun, “Boris returned from convalescence at Chequers when he heard the news. He was incensed. Matt had told him point-blank, tests would be carried out. He couldn’t understand why they hadn’t been. For a moment he lost it with Matt, shouting ‘What a f***ing mess’."
After Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's former senior advisor, accused him of misleading the prime minister about the care home testing catastrophe, the health secretary is at the epicenter of a political showdown.
As the situation unfolded in early March 2020, it has emerged that Hancock received an email from social care officials on March 26 expressly alerting him that care facilities were being "pressured" to accept patients who had not been tested and were exhibiting signs of coronavirus.
The news will add to the pressure on Matt Hancock, the health secretary, who has revealed that some care residents have been released from the hospital without having had a test. But he did not admit to the lying.
Between March 17 and April 15, 25,000 individuals were released to care homes, and there is a strong suspicion among social leaders and professionals that this enabled the virus to enter the facilities.
Once within a care facility, the coronavirus can easily spread to other residents, causing serious illness. At least 20,000 care home residents died in the first wave, accounting for nearly a third of all fatalities in which COVID-19 was indicated on the death certificate.
The Observer has been told of the intense pressure placed on certain homes to re-house people, including being informed that a transfer had been approved by a senior management official despite the fact that no agreement had been made.
Concerns have also been raised regarding the number of deaths that may have occurred as a result of untested residents returning back to the care home from the hospital.
After Cummings told MPs that the "protective ring" around nursing homes was a deception, Public Health England (PHE) produced a study last week claiming that just 1.6% of outbreaks in care homes – 806 instances between January and October last year – were caused by hospitalized patients released from hospitals.
The study, which was completed in October but was released the day after Cummings testified, made no effort to estimate how many untested patients may have spread Covid in nursing homes.