Retired prof defends Matt Hancock because he was almost correct

Again the Guardian today:

Care workers have hit back at claims by the former health secretary Matt Hancock that the Covid virus was brought into homes by infected staff.

In his book, the Pandemic Diaries, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail, Hancock said only a small proportion of cases were caused by his decision to discharge patients from hospital without testing.

“The vast majority of infections were brought in from the wider community, mainly by staff,” he wrote in May 2021, citing data from the UK Health Security Agency, which found that 1.2% of care home cases between January and October 2020 were associated with hospital discharges.

He’s right. Tragically, inadvertently but crucially because the privately-owned care homes exploited them to do so, agency staff travelling between homes, often with poor quality infection control due to understaffing and lack of training because of cost-cutting to make profits, did spread the infection.

Hancock does not, of course, mention the last point above.

We’ve been here, in Scotland, several times before as Anas Sarwar that ambulance-chaser of ambulance-chasers has tried to blame the ‘SNP Government’ for the very same thing – the hospital discharges – and in a unholy union with the private owners and the GMB, ignore the very same evidence.

Here is again, from April 2021, apologies to regular readers:

Daily Record columnist, Annie Brown, provides Monica Lennon and Scottish Labour with yet another set of misinterpreted evidence which they can use to return to their long-disproved thesis that the Scottish Government is responsible for the care home deaths.

It’s a new low in journalism, biased from the outset and ironically ‘cherry picking’ of evidence.

First, she writes:

In the first wave of the pandemic, more than 1,300 elderly people were discharged from hospitals to care homes in Scotland before a testing regime was in place. The government said a Public Health Scotland report “did not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks”. This is skilful cherry picking of a report which actually could be interpreted to say quite the opposite. Another such report is out today, so let’s see what acrobatics of interpretation the government can perform this time.

All untrue, demonstrably, from several reports:

After the first wave, the charitable MHA with a presence in Scotland did research into its own homes and discovered this: Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK’s largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. The MHA Chief Executive said: I think it’s very difficult not to see that the only real way that this can have come into our homes is through staff picking it up, just through the community contacts they would have had. I think that is what is so hard for all our staff, because they care. But if they don’t know they’ve contracted the virus, how can you manage this?

Then a large ONS study of 9 081 care homes in England found this: These emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents.

Pay attention: There is no evidence that hospital discharges caused outbreaks in care homes.

Then, with the arrogance of Sarwar, she writes

Nicola Sturgeon said, with the benefit of hindsight, “mistakes” were made with care home residents at the start of the crisis. Forget hindsight 20 /20 since the impact of this move, could have been predicted with no more knowledge than gleaned watching the movie Contagion. Deadly viruses introduced to vulnerable people in confined spaces, kill them, here endeth the medical lesson.

Astonishing contempt from a mere journo for highly trained professionals.

The decisions to discharge from hospital into care homes were taken, in the interests of the patients, many of them traumatised there by dementia, by highly qualified medics in consultation with care home managers, skilled in the isolation of infected residents from decades of flu epidemics. ‘Those in power’, SNP politicians, played no part.

The decisions of those owners in the larger corporate homes to maximise occupancy and to skimp on staffing, PPE and testing, with over-dependency on agency staff travelling between sites, caused the deaths.

Finally and disgracefully, this:

The belated remorse of the Scottish government is the equivalent of a General apologising he ordered hand grenades be thrown into care homes then feigning shock when people died. The actions of our government in 2020 were a fag paper away from euthanasia and there should have been grovelling apologies long before now. If it wasn’t for journalists we wouldn’t know the half of it.

Like the GMB and Richard Leonard before them, Lennon and Brown side with the rapacious corporations in a desperate attempt to harm the SNP.

Footnote: I haven’t and will not read Hancock’s book. I’d rather eat a kangaroo penis.


3 thoughts on “Retired prof defends Matt Hancock because he was almost correct

  1. The Hancock ‘revelations’ remind me of Ms Edwina Currie c1990 when there was a scare about salmonella in eggs. She was a junior minister and was asked about the problem and she replied, with amazing candour: “Sadly almost all our flocks of hens are infected with salmonella”. She was sacked by Mrs Thatcher within a day!

    Hancock has told the truth regarding deaths from Covid in care homes, albeit incidentally, as part of a campaign of rehabilitation of himself and not for the public good. An unholy alliance of owners of large private care homes, Labour politicians and the GMB union have sought for their own selfish purposes to shift the blame for the care home owners’ venality to politicians in Scotland, who, from the start, were frank and open about how the discharge decision was arrived at. The Scottish politicians were also honest enough to accept that in a rapidly developing unknown situation like Covid mistakes were likely to have been made. Despite the media and opposition ranting, a majority of the population trusted the Scottish Government.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As aside to your point, had the explosion of private care homes under the Tories then Labour which laundered pensions etc via profiteering management with provided tax dodges would things have been different?
    Had the Tories not defunded the national epidemic stockpile such that it couldn’t cope, had they not hollowed out the NHS to be on it’s knees, had the Tories not flogged off ventilators to Malasia, etc., etc., had two charlatans as PM and Health Minister not been in power, would the death toll have been less ?

    All these things combined to create the disastrous response of the UK compared to any other country in Europe, and behind it stood Tory dogma.


  3. What is glaringly obvious is the difference between the treatment of Matt Hancock and Nicola Sturgeon. No blame attached to him for being half right BUT she is half right too and gets the unionist book of rights stotted off her head.


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