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Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock is under fire for care facility fatalities and hectic pandemic response.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock
(PA Archive)

Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has denied allegations that, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, he disregarded professional advice on care facilities. This comes after parts of his WhatsApp conversations were leaked to a newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph alleges that Hancock disregarded Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty's recommendation to screen all patients entering British nursing homes for the coronavirus. The newspaper claimed to have gotten about 100,000 texts and expects to publish more in the coming days.

He decided to test hospital patients rather than the wider public because he believed that doing so "muddies the waters," according to the publication.

In a statement, Hancock's spokesperson charged the newspaper with "an agenda-driven partial disclosure of confidential documents" and said that "The Telegraph purposely removed reference to a meeting with the WhatsApp test team. It's important to note that Matt agreed with Chris Whitty's recommendation, organised a meeting to discuss its viability, declared it unviable, and insisted on testing all hospital visitors.

Journalist Isabel Oakeshott provided the Telegraph with screenshots of her WhatsApp messages after Hancock hired her to assist with the writing of her memoirs about the pandemic and gave her access to the messages. Oakeshott has been strongly critical of the UK government's decision to shut down, claiming in her own Telegraph opinion article on Tuesday night that the public "simply can't wait any longer for answers".

According to Office for National Statistics data, 43,256 COVID-related deaths occurred in English nursing homes between March 2020 and January 2022. This issue will likely be closely examined during the public review into how the epidemic was handled in the UK.


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