WATCH: Starmer says Hancock book “deeply, deeply insulting” to NHS staff

Elliot Chappell

Keir Starmer has said that NHS workers find the claims made by Matt Hancock in an excerpt of his book, The Pandemic Diaries, after his return to work after a stint on a three-week reality TV show “deeply, deeply insulting”.

Asked for his views on the claims made in the book, which is being serialised by The Daily Mail, Starmer said: “You’ve already seen the response of many people in the NHS… which is they find what Matt Hancock has to say deeply, deeply insulting.”

Hancock claimed in one excerpt that only a small proportion of Covid cases were caused by his decision to discharge patients from hospital without testing and said instead that “the vast majority of infections were brought in from the wider community, mainly by staff”.

In his diary entry for April 2nd 2020, just days after the imposition of the first national lockdown, Hancock acknowledged that patients leaving hospital would not be tested but said care homes were given clear guidance on isolation measures.

The Labour leader reminded Sky News viewers that Hancock claimed during the pandemic that the government had tried to throw a “protective ring” around care homes, but argued that the then Health Secretary “did nothing of the kind”.

He also warned that NHS workers are “exhausted” and said Labour would scrap the controversial non-dom tax status to “train double the amount of medical staff to come into the NHS”. “The cavalry is coming,” he added.

Hancock returned to Westminster last week after having appeared on the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! The Conservative Party withdrew the whip after it was revealed that he would spend three weeks on the show.

The former Health Secretary, who left his government position after breaking Covid rules designed by his department, faced widespread criticism for the decision to go on the show. It was also revealed this week that the MP had been paid £45,000 to appear on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins shortly before going to Australia.

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