Hancock blames Public Health England after damning ruling on Covid in care homes
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Hancock blames Public Health England after damning ruling on Covid in care homes

Former health secretary Matt Hancock has blamed Public Health England (PHE) for failing to alert him to asymptomatic transmission of Covid after a court ruled that the government policy of discharging patients to care homes during the early stages of the pandemic was unlawful.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that policies contained in documents released in March and early April 2020 were unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.

They also said that, despite there being “growing awareness” of the risk of asymptomatic transmission throughout March 2020, there was no evidence that the then-health secretary, Matt Hancock, addressed the issue of the risk to care home residents of such transmission.

::Follow the latest on the ruling over Covid care home failures here::

However a spokesman for Mr Hancock pointed the finger of blame at the now defunct PHE, which was replaced by the UK Health Security Agency.

The spokesman said the disgraced former minister had “frequently stated” that he wished the risks from asymptomatic transmission “had been brought to his attention earlier”.

The spokesman said: “This court case comprehensively clears ministers of any wrongdoing and finds Mr Hancock acted reasonably on all counts.

“The court also found that PHE (Public Health England) failed to tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission.

“Mr Hancock has frequently stated how he wished this had been brought to his attention earlier.

“Mr Hancock’s thoughts are with everyone who lost loved ones, and we must ensure that all the right lessons are learned.”

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Written by Tom Batchelor

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