Matt Hancock has criticised the UK’s strategy to planning for pandemics as « utterly improper ».
The previous well being secretary instructed the coronavirus inquiry: « The angle, the doctrine of the UK was to plan for the implications of a catastrophe.
« Can we purchase sufficient physique baggage? The place are we going to bury the useless?
« And that was utterly improper. After all, it is necessary to have that in case you fail to cease a pandemic, however central to pandemic planning must be – how do you cease the catastrophe from taking place within the first place? How do you suppress the virus? »
COVID inquiry newest: How Matt Hancock’s proof unfolded
Mr Hancock stated he’s « profoundly sorry » for each dying attributable to COVID-19 and blamed « doctrine » for believing the UK had issues beneath management.
He stated doctrinal failures had « penalties » in areas akin to « stockpiles, testing, antivirals, contact tracing, and rather more broadly » when the pandemic struck in 2020.
He added that having pandemic plans specializing in flu was not the central flaw.
« As an illustration, large-scale testing didn’t exist and large-scale contact tracing didn’t exist as a result of it was assumed that as quickly as there was neighborhood transmission, it would not be attainable to cease the unfold, and due to this fact, what is the level in touch tracing? » he stated.
« That was utterly improper. »
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Mr Hancock additionally stated he was involved the programs to cease the subsequent pandemic are « being dismantled as we converse ».
Talking concerning the lack of correct preparedness, he stated: « I’m profoundly sorry for the influence that it had, I am profoundly sorry for every dying that has occurred. »
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He added: « And all I can do is make sure that this inquiry will get to the underside of it, and that for the long run, we study the correct classes, in order that we cease a pandemic in its tracks a lot, a lot earlier.
« And that we’ve got the programs in place prepared to do this, as a result of I am nervous that they are being dismantled as we converse. »
Matt Hancock’s line of defence, one he repeated again and again throughout a generally tetchy trade with Hugo Keith KC, was that he inherited a well being system that might not be capable of deal with a non-influenza pandemic.
The previous well being secretary instructed the COVID inquiry he got here to the conclusion « doctrinal » points prevented the nation’s preparedness.
As an alternative the system was geared in the direction of coping with « mass casualties » and the implications of a worldwide well being emergency.
The inquiry’s lead counsel requested repeatedly why he, as secretary of state, did nothing to handle this apparent failure. There was no straight reply from Mr Hancock.
And this was a recurring theme all through his three hours on the witness stand.
Mr Hancock stated he noticed potential issues however couldn’t do something to vary « a flawed system ». This refusal to just accept any accountability was maybe most evident when addressing grownup social care.
The choice to maneuver untested aged sufferers from hospitals into care properties had catastrophic penalties. It is without doubt one of the single largest scandals of the pandemic. However Mr Hancock stated regardless of having the sector’s identify in his job title he had no energy over grownup social care because it got here beneath the jurisdiction of native authorities.
Once more, the identical defence: flawed programs that hampered his pandemic efforts.
The inquiry was warned proper initially of this morning’s session Mr Hancock’s proof could be restricted to the years earlier than the precise pandemic as this Module 1 offers completely with preparedness and resilience.
However Mr Hancock clearly needed everybody to know that regardless of taking over a system that was not prepared, amongst different issues, to scale-up mass testing and vaccine roll out, it was due to his private interventions that important good points have been made to fight the unfold of the virus. He stated he went towards WHO recommendation to impose the primary quarantines on worldwide travellers who may need been uncovered to the virus.
This is not going to sit nicely with the bereaved households who sat in the identical room listening to his proof. And Mr Hancock is aware of this. He stated he was « profoundly sorry for every dying » however admitted he additionally understood « why this apology could be arduous to take from somebody like him ».
By taking no accountability and regularly blaming a system for which he was singularly accountable as well being secretary, Mr Hancock has performed nothing to make his apologies to bereaved households any simpler to just accept.
UK system ‘geared in the direction of the right way to clear up after a catastrophe, not stop it’
Beneath questioning from Hugo Keith KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, Mr Hancock listed the problems the UK confronted with PPE (private protecting gear), exams, antivirals and vaccine preparedness.
The MP stated he was instructed the UK was one of many best-placed international locations on the earth at responding to a pandemic – which « turned out to be improper ».
He instructed the inquiry the system was « geared in the direction of the right way to clear up after a catastrophe, not stop it » and that « flaw, that failure, went again years and years and was embedded in all the system response ».
Mr Hancock turned probably the most recognised politicians within the nation as he labored to steer the UK’s coronavirus response earlier than he was compelled to give up in June 2021 after footage emerged of him embracing his aide Gina Coladangelo whereas social distancing tips have been nonetheless in place.
Mr Hancock gave proof a day after the pinnacle of the UK’s Well being Safety Company stated austerity measures left public well being companies « denuded ».
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