MATT HANCOCK has been asked for a public apology by the son of a doctor who died after warning the government about a lack of PPE.
The health secretary this morning took part in a live phone-in with Nick Ferrari on LBC radio, taking questions from the public.
The first came from Intisar Chowdhury, 18, the son of Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury (above) who died earlier this month with Covid-19.
Five days before he was admitted to hospital, Dr Chowdhury, 53, wrote a Facebook post asking Boris Johnson to urgently provide every NHS worker with personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dr Chowdhury, a consultant urologist, died two weeks after making the plea.
Referencing the fact that around 100 NHS staff have died with the virus, Mr Chowdhury asked Mr Hancock: ‘Do you regret not taking my dad’s concerns, my 11-year-old sister’s dad’s concerns and a wife’s husband’s concerns seriously enough for my dad that we’ve all lost?’
The health secretary replied: ‘Intisar, I’m really sorry about your dad’s death and I have seen the comments you’ve made and what you’ve said in public and I think it’s very brave of you.
‘We took very, very seriously what your father said and we’ve been working around the clock to ensure that there’s enough protective equipment.
‘In the case of anybody who works in the NHS or in social care and has died from coronavirus, we look into it in each case to find out the reasons why they might have caught it and what lessons we can learn.’
Mr Hancock said policies had been changed as more was learned about coronavirus, giving the example of changing guidance on funeral attendance after seeing 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab buried without his family.
He also said thousands of people were ‘doing everything they can’ to solve issues with PPE despite complicated logistical problems.
Mr Hancock was then asked to publicly acknowledge that mistakes had been made.
Mr Chowdhury said: ‘The public is not expecting the government to handle this perfectly — none of us are expecting perfection, we’re expecting progression.
‘We just want you to openly acknowledge that there have been mistakes in handling the virus, especially to me and to so many families that have really lost loved ones as a result of this virus and probably as a result of the government not handling it seriously enough.
‘Openly acknowledging your mistake is not an admission of guilt, it is genuinely just making you seem more human.’
Mr Chowdhury asked for a public apology today, mentioning the daily Downing Street press conference as an opportunity.
Mr Hancock replied: ‘I think that it is very important that we’re constantly learning about how to do these things better and I think listening to the voices on the frontline is a very, very important part of how we improve.’
Mr Ferrari passed condolences to Mr Chowdhury on behalf of himself and the health secretary, who added, ‘Absolutely’.