Covid-19: Matt Hancock insists Govt 'worked as hard as we could' to protect care homes

27 May 2021, 17:41 | Updated: 27 May 2021, 19:16

By Kate Buck

Matt Hancock has said the Government worked "as hard as we could" to protect care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, following damning criticism from Dominic Cummings.

The Health Secretary previously said Boris Johnson's team "threw a protective ring" around care homes, claims which Mr Cummings said were "complete nonsense".

But speaking during a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, Hancock said: "

He replied: "We worked as hard as we could to protect people who live in care homes, and of course those who live in care homes are some of the most vulnerable to this disease because by its nature it attacks and has more of an impact on older people.

Read more: Claims of protective shield around care homes 'complete nonsense'

Boris Johnson: "We did everything we could to protect the NHS and care homes"

"Now when it comes to the testing of people as they left hospital and went into care homes, we committed to building the testing capacity to allow that to happen.

"Of course it then takes time to build testing capacity.

"In fact, one of the critical things we did was set the 100,000 target back then to make sure we built that testing capacity and it was very effective in doing so.

Matt Hancock spoke at the Downing Street press conference, the day after Dominic Cummings explosive allegations
Matt Hancock spoke at the Downing Street press conference, the day after Dominic Cummings explosive allegations. Picture: PA

During the conference Hancock also repeatedly said "there will be a time" when actions made during those crucial earlier months will be properly looked at.

The claim parroted an earlier statement made by Boris Johnson, who said they "did everything we could to protect the NHS" and care homes.

Boris Johnson’s former chief advisor made the claim whilst giving evidence to a joint meeting of both the Science and Technology Select Committee and the Health and Social Care Select Committee, titled "Coronavirus: lessons learnt".

“Hancock told us that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes, what the hell happened?” he said of Hancock.

"Quite the opposite of putting a shield round them, we sent people with Covid back to the care homes."

He said that care home testing was “complete chaos”.

Read more: Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been fired for lying, says Cummings

Read more: Matt Hancock brands Dominic Cummings' allegations as 'unsubstantiated and untrue'

It was the latest in a series of explosive accusations made by Mr Cummings, who told MPs that Mr Hancock should have been fired for multiple offences, something that he claims then cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill also recommended.

He also alleged that Mr Hancock withheld tests during April 2020 in order to enable the government to reach their target of 100,000 test per day by the end of the month, something he called "criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm".