matt hancock

How did we go from clapping our carers to sacking our carers?

I’ve written a comment piece for Mail+ about Sajid Javid’s decision to insist that all care home workers get vaccinated this week and all NHS staff by April of next year. It takes the form of a response to Matt Hancock’s op ed in the Telegraph. Here is an extract:

This week, former health secretary Matt Hancock wrote a newspaper article in which he said the logic for insisting NHS staff get vaccinated or face the sack was “crystal clear”.

He added: “There is no respectable argument left to keep this tool in the locker.”

But, oddly, he didn’t even consider the arguments against this draconian measure, let alone rebut them.

For instance, he doesn’t deal with the most obvious objection, namely that people who’ve been double jabbed can still catch COVID-19 and infect others. Indeed, according to raw data published by the Health Security Agency – the successor to Public Health England – rates of infection among the vaccinated are higher than they are for the unvaccinated.

Hancock could have challenged this data, as many have, by arguing that the vaccinated are more likely to be tested than the unvaccinated, making it difficult to compare the two. Instead, his entire argument rested on the premise that doctors and nurses who’ve been vaccinated cannot infect their patients. He could have argued that having the vaccine makes it less likely an infected person will pass the virus on, for which there’s some evidence, but he didn’t.

Then there’s the fact that those NHS workers who are currently unvaccinated may have had the virus and recovered. According to the BMJ, there is mounting evidence that natural immunity provides you with at least as much protection as being double jabbed.

If your priority is to protect patients, as Hancock claims, the logic of sacking the unvaccinated who’ve recovered from Covid, but continuing to employ the vaccinated who’ve never had it, is far from “crystal clear”.

Then there’s the moral argument. Hancock was effusive in his praise of ‘our NHS’ throughout his time as health secretary, encouraging us to clap for these courageous carers at the height of the pandemic. How can it now be right to threaten these same ‘heroes’ with the sack?

Finally, there’s the staffing argument. As a former health secretary, Hancock should know the NHS is chronically understaffed and the situation is getting worse. According to data published by NHS Digital, there were 93,806 full-time equivalent vacancies across the health service in England at the end of June.

Given this, how can it possibly make sense to start sacking NHS staff who refuse to get jabbed?

Worth reading in full.

Matt Hancock’s Error-Strewn Argument for Mandatory Vaccination Puts His Authoritarian Impulse on Full Display

Disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was forced to resign in June when he breached the Covid guidance he had imposed on everyone else through having an affair with an aide, wrote an article in the Telegraph this week calling for immediate mandatory vaccination for NHS and social-care workers. The Government announced last week that it would delay mandatory vaccination for these workers until April 2022 to avoid exacerbating winter staffing problems, with an estimated 100,000 NHS workers still unvaccinated. Hancock, however, argues this is a mistake that puts lives at risk.

His article contains so many factual and logical errors, however, that it serves primarily as an illustration of why Hancock as Health Secretary was such a disaster for the country, with an untamed authoritarian impulse and the absence of capacity for critical or nuanced thinking. Hancock’s world is one of crisp, clean black and white, where science speaks in unison, and what is healthy becomes what is morally required and what is morally required becomes what is legally required with barely a pause for breath. If there is any liberal impulse in there he conceals it very well indeed.

Let’s take a few minutes to go through his piece and spot the many places where his argument falls down.

One year ago today, the UK was in a perilous position in our fight against COVID-19. In the absence of vaccines, there was no way to fight the pandemic without painful lockdowns and deprivations of freedom. But the development of vaccines has changed all that.

This is a bad start. It repeats the false claim that COVID-19 cannot be managed without restrictions or vaccines. This completely disregards the evidence of places which imposed few or no restrictions, such as Sweden, Florida, South Dakota, Japan and Tanzania, and fared no worse than places which imposed the harshest restrictions. It also ignores the evidence from numerous published studies showing that the stringency and timing of restrictions was not associated with significant differences in outcomes.

But the honest truth is that vaccination matters more for some than others. Obviously, vaccination matters most for the oldest, and for those who care for the most vulnerable, too. After all, getting the vaccine isn’t just to protect you, but to protect those around you who you might otherwise infect.

And Finally…

In the latest episode of London Calling, James Delingpole and I discuss James’s aversion to answering emails; David Starkey’s jaw-dropping assertion that vaccines should be compulsory; the new head of NHS England’s misleading claim that there are currently 14 times as many Covid patients in hospital as there were this time last year (in fact, there are fewer); Matt Hancock’s Telegraph comment piece saying the case for insisting all health workers are vaccinated is “unanswerable”, even though he doesn’t actually answer any of the standard counter-arguments; Obama’s speech at COP26 in which he blamed ‘nationalism’ for lack of progress on climate change while in a country run by nationalists; the ‘unholy trinity’ – Covid, Climate Change and Social Justice – used by governments to exert more and more control over their populations; my trip to Blackpool to see QPR away; and, in Culture Corner, Midnight Mass, Invasion, The Morning Show and American Crime Story: Impeachment.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here.

Matt Hancock Demands That Mandatory Vaccination for NHS Staff Must Arrive before Winter

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The former Health Secretary has declared that NHS workers must be coerced into having both doses of a Covid vaccine before the onset of winter, while criticising unvaccinated staff for dismissing “all the scientific and clinical advice”. However, the current Health Secretary Sajid Javid wishes to delay the implementation of mandatory vaccinations for NHS employees until April of next year to avoid a severe staffing shortage over the Christmas period. The MailOnline has more.

Hancock, who quit in June after breaching his own social distancing rules by kissing a married colleague, said the move would act as another “tool to save lives” during what is projected to be a harsh winter for the health service.

He also scorned NHS staff who are still not vaccinated and don’t have a valid medical reason, warning that it was their “moral duty” and that they had “ignored all the scientific and clinical advice”.

Ministers have for weeks been considering whether to make Covid jabs compulsory within the health service after pushing through the requirement for care home workers in the summer. 

But last week the Health Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to push back the inoculation deadline until April amid warnings from NHS bosses that introducing a ‘no jab, no job’ policy now could leave hospitals understaffed at a crucial period.

Writing in the the Telegraph, Hancock, who was Health Secretary for three years, warned ministers against delaying compulsory vaccinations for the sector into the new year.

He said: “having looked at all the evidence, I am now convinced we must require vaccination for everyone who works not just in social care but the NHS, and get it in place as fast as possible… so as we prepare to a face a difficult winter, let’s use all the tools we have to save lives. 

Imagine the cancer patient, already battling another deadly disease, being cared for by a nurse. Who can put their hand on their heart and say they’d be happy to tell that patient their nurse could have the vaccine, but has chosen against all scientific and clinical advice to ignore it.”

Hancock said doctors and nurses had a “moral duty” to get the Covid vaccine to protect their patients.

A SAGE adviser said today it was a “general standard of hygiene” for anyone in a frontline role in contact with vulnerable patients to be double vaccinated against Covid. But they stopped short of calling for jabs to be made compulsory, saying this should only be done as a “last resort”. 

NHS England figures show only a small minority of NHS staff are still to get two doses of the vaccine, with more than nine in 10 doctors and nurses having already received both jabs. Health chiefs warned yesterday that hospitals are already at peak winter levels of bed occupancy despite it being early in the season. 

All care home workers will be required to have had two doses of the Covid vaccine from Thursday or lose their jobs, under a policy brought in while Hancock was Health Secretary. 

But the Government’s own figures suggest this will lead to some 40,000 care home workers losing their jobs in the already understaffed sector. This could lead to the closure of up to 500 homes, putting extra pressure on hospitals which will be unable to discharge patients well enough to be taken off the wards.

Worth reading in full.

Matt Hancock Hired – And Fired – By United Nations in Matter of Days

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s attempt to make a full return to public life has failed miserably following uproar around his job offer at the United Nations (UN). After being appointed as an adviser to African nations less than a week ago, Hancock has already had the offer withdrawn because of a technicality. MailOnline has the story.

The shamed ex-Health Secretary, who stepped down after his affair with aide Gina Coladangelo in June, was told his role as a UN special representative was “not being taken forward” in an embarrassing climbdown for all involved.

The unpaid job offer was revoked on a technicality just days after it was offered, following stinging criticism by leading figures across Africa and U.K. opposition parties.

Mr Hancock, 42,  had planned to balance his roles as a Tory backbencher while working with the international aid giant, after he was offered the role by General Vera Songwe for his “success” in handling the U.K.’s pandemic response.

But on Friday, a UN spokesman confirmed that Mr. Hancock’s appointment was not going to be “taken forward” after it emerged sitting Members of Parliament could not simultaneously serve as UN special representatives. …

Speaking on the role, Mr. Hancock told MailOnline: “I was honoured to be approached by the UN and appointed as Special Representative to the Economic Commission for Africa, to help drive forward an agenda of strengthening markets and bringing investment to Africa.

“The UN have written to me to explain that a technical UN rule has subsequently come to light which states that sitting Members of Parliament cannot also be UN Special Representatives. 

“Since I am committed to continuing to serve as MP for West Suffolk, this means I cannot take up the position.

“I look forward to supporting the UN ECA in their mission in whatever way I can in my Parliamentary role.”

MailOnline understands Mr. Hancock controversially won backing for the job thanks to Nimko Ali, a campaigner against female genital mutilation who is a close friend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie.

Worth reading in full.

Matt Hancock Sparks Laughter and Derision from MPs and Ridicule Online as he Speaks From the Backbenches

Matt Hancock tried to make a modest re-entry into public life this afternoon in the House of Commons debate about the Government’s National Insurance hike. It didn’t go well. MailOnline has the details.

Matt Hancock was booed and heckled by fellow MPs this afternoon as he spoke in the House of Commons for the first time since resigning.

The disgraced former Health Secretary stood up to speak from the backbenches in Westminster in support of Boris Johnson during a debate on social care reform.

The 42 year-old Conservative was forced to quit the Cabinet on June 26th when CCTV from his Whitehall office was leaked of him kissing his married aide Gina Coladangelo in breach of his own COVID-19 social distancing guidance.

And today, he congratulated the Prime Minister following his statement on social care – which will see a £12 billion-a-year tax raid to address the funding crisis – and called for the sector to be integrated with health “properly”.

It comes after friends of the couple claimed over the weekend that Mr Hancock is pushing his “shattered” long-Covid hit wife Martha to “breaking point” with a list of break-up demands and is being a “complete a” to her.

Mr. Hancock was last week spotted on a romantic Alpine break with his new lover, with Mrs. Hancock left feeling “very low” at the family home while “desperately trying to keep it together” for their three children.

Worth reading in full.

Covid and the Death of the Scientific Method

We’re publishing an original piece today by John A. Fairclough, an Hon. Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales and Professor Emeritus at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It’s very critical of the way in which a few medics and public health directors have dictated government policy over the last 15 months. Here is an extract:

While Matt Hancock was running around in nursery, I managed a polio epidemic, had malaria, treated leprosy and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in cannibals (Mad Cow) – also abandoned my pregnant wife for safety in a convent in Papua New Guinea to rescue a voluntary worker, had a career in medicine of over five decades, published widely, including on infection ritual, the wearing of masks, and once appeared in the Times Top 10 surgeons.

I was married to a Welsh geography teacher who survived eclampsia, cerebral oedema in ITU and fractured jaw, breast cancer and ectopic pregnancy.

I lectured Internationally on the Myth of Surgical Ritual (including the nonsense of cloth masks). The above photo is a slide from the lecture.

We are now the grannies and grandads whom Matt Hancock patronised by asking the younger generation to save. We can’t apparently assess our own risk.

The absence of scientists in the political masters and some media correspondents has rendered them incapable of interrogating the validity of data suggested by some scientists. It may be a surprise to many that epidemiologists are mainly mathematicians not medics and that most scientists on SAGE are not practising clinicians who wear masks as surgeons do as part of their practice.

We now have a new Health Secretary but sill the lamentable voices of SAGE, the BMA and a host of individuals who appear incapable of distinguishing scientific data from opinion.

Worth reading in full.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid Set to Rule Out Unlocking on July 5th

Allies of Sajid Javid say that his approach to Covid will be radically different to that of Matt Hancock’s because he is “much less ‘nanny state-ish'”. But today, the new Health Secretary is expected to tell Brits that July 5th is too early for “Freedom Day” to take place and that the nation’s unlock will have to be held off for at least a further two weeks. The MailOnline has the story.

The new Health Secretary will deliver a statement to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon in which he will set out the latest thinking on when rules can be axed.

Boris Johnson built in a two-week review point when he announced the original four-week delay to the final step of his lockdown exit roadmap. 

But Mr Javid will reportedly say the nation is not yet in a position to return to normal life but hopes are high that will be possible by the July 19th deadline. 

Sources have suggested that Mr Javid’s approach to the pandemic will be radically different to Matt Hancock’s because he is “much less nanny-state-ish” than his predecessor…

Some Tory MPs are pushing for the Government to ease the rules from July 5th due to the ongoing success of the U.K.’s vaccination drive. 

Mr Javid will tell MPs that July 5th is not possible but he is expected to say he is confident that the July 19th easing will be able to go ahead as planned, according to the Times…

[A source told the newspaper]: “[Javid] is someone who has not been keen on the restrictions, someone who sees the economic and social impact. 

“Saj’s outlook is much less ‘nanny state-ish’, although I’m sure he will be challenged by scientific and medical advisers.” …

Mr Javid said yesterday: “We are still in a pandemic and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible and that will be my most immediate priority, to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Prime Minister has confirmed that a July 5th unlock will not go ahead, saying instead that “we’re very likely to be in a position on July 19th to say that really is the terminus and we can go back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid Says He Wants the Country to “Return to Normal as Quickly as Possible”

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid appears not to have got the memo about the ‘new normal’ and perpetuating restrictions on flimsy pretexts as in his first full day in office he has said he wants the country to “return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible”. The Telegraph has more.

Sajid Javid has said his “most immediate priority” will be getting the country through the coronavirus pandemic, as he took up the job of Health Secretary.

Speaking to the media for the first time since he took over from Matt Hancock on Saturday, Mr Javid said he recognised the “huge responsibility” which faced him.

And he pledged to “do everything I can to make sure that I deliver for this great country”.

This comes amid Mr Hancock’s shocking departure from his role as Health Secretary after he faced mounting pressure to quit for breaching his own social distancing guidelines in early May.

Mr Hancock was pressured into resigning after CCTV footage emerged showing him kissing his close aide, Gina Coladangelo, in his ministerial office.

Mr Javid said on Sunday that he wants the country to “return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible”, leaving the new Health Secretary with a tight deadline to deliver on England’s July 19th ‘freedom day’.

The lockdown zealots on SAGE won’t be happy and are presumably already plotting how to bring him round to more correct ways of thinking.

If Javid really wants to make his mark and show he is serious he could start by ensuring the country reopens on July 5th rather than July 19th. But either way, dropping the mask mandate and ending social distancing – including as guidance, which can be no less hampering for businesses and organisations for whom guidance is practically mandatory once insurers and lawyers get involved – must be a priority for any return to normality.

So Long Matt Hancock

We’re publishing an original piece today by the historian and Lockdown Sceptics‘ regular Guy de la Bédoyère about the demise of Matt Hancock, which he sees as a source of hope. Here is an extract:

The truth of course is that the Government, despite some of its very remarkable achievements and initiatives of the last 15 months, also imposed dramatic and ultimately impossible pressures on its own members, advisers, and the rest of the population. Sometimes, self-destruction is the only means of escape. The former Health Secretary had constructed a compensatory image of himself as someone devoted night and day to saving lives and exhorting the nation to participate in his righteous crusade and turn every aspect of human existence towards one end. He knew he could not possibly live up to that, as he teetered along the edge of a cliff. I’m not surprised he became overwhelmed and found solace in other, more human, comforts, however clumsy and ill-advised.

The Prime Minister’s support of his minister was only to be expected. How could he do anything else? To have condemned the former Heath Secretary would have automatically turned the searchlight back on himself. It’s the best way to vindicate one’s own behaviour, or at any rate divert attention from it. Inevitably, the Cabinet lickspittles rallied round with their characteristic short-termism to add their chorus of approval for shutting the matter down, apart from trying to turn it into a question of national security. Patriotism, especially that brand of cod-patriotism, is the last refuge of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson so pithily observed. Fortunately, large swathes of the Conservative Party took a different view.

The shabby corralling of support was a self-inflicted, if unintentional, momentary conspiracy to unravel the Government’s collective authority. For the cynic it was a golden moment, to say nothing of the joy exhibited by the tabloid hacks handed this feast upon a plate. The Government will totter on and plenty of people will say it doesn’t matter what a Health Secretary gets up to in his private life, even if it is being conducted on the office clock at public expense. But that’s not the same as managing and maintaining prestige and authority. This latest escapade comes on the back of the G7 cronies living it up on the beach and enjoying a barbecue, to say nothing of the international travel involved.

Are we at a turning point? Yes, we probably are. There comes a time to say a quick goodnight and quietly fade away. A person made of sterner stuff than anyone in this administration of career mediocrities would have recognised immediately when the moment had come. Instead, we were treated for another day to the tawdry sight of a reptile grimly trying to cling on to the greasy ladder of power after first caking his hands in melted butter.

Worth reading in full.