Debates between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock during the 2019 Parliament

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Monday 7th June 2021

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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We are working on exactly that question. Of course, there is the question in advance of that of the vaccination of 12 to 18-year-olds, on which we are taking advice from the JCVI. We are conducting trials as to what are the best jabs to give, given which two previous jabs people have had, to give them the strongest protection. The third thing we are doing is working with AstraZeneca to develop a vaccine specifically targeted at the variants—that was part of the G7 work and announcements last week. If we can give a flu jab and a covid booster jab at the same time, that would be great. That is also under clinical evaluation, because, obviously, it would make the logistics so much easier over the autumn. Likewise, I am taking advice on which age groups and which groups it should be for: whether it should just be for the over-50s or for everybody; how to vaccinate; what group to put health and social care workers in; and whether there is a special regime for those who live in care homes, as there was in the first round of vaccination, where care home residents and staff came first. All of those are live questions on which we do not yet have answers, but that is the scope of the decisions we need to make ahead of the autumn for the autumn vaccination programme.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Alba)
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The progress with the vaccination roll-out is really to be welcomed and I give my thanks to all the staff, vaccinators and others who have been responsible for that progress. There are understandable concerns about how we manage and deal with variants, and my questions are centred on that today. What surveillance is taking place on the following measures or what is proposed? These are really important issues: the longevity of immunogenesis and how that is going to be captured; the adaptability of the virus and how that is going to be countered; and the need to modify or develop new vaccines as we progress into a position where the majority of the population are vaccinated.

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I join the hon. Gentleman in congratulating all those involved in the vaccine roll-out, everywhere in the UK. In Scotland, it has been a remarkable effort, with the UK Government working with the Scottish Administration, the NHS across the country, local councils and the armed services—it has been a big team effort, and that has been part of the success of the vaccine roll-out.

The hon. Gentleman asked about three critical areas of the science. Reviews of all three areas are ongoing. They are led by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, whom the hon. Gentleman may have heard of, who is an absolutely brilliant clinician in this space—there are a lot more people involved who are doing excellent scientific work on these questions. That surveillance on immunogenicity, the work on the next-generation variant vaccine and the work on understanding the variants as we spot them is all going on. Public Health England has done a huge amount of work, working with public health colleagues right across the country, and I am grateful to them all.

Covid-19: Government Handling and Preparedness

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Thursday 27th May 2021

(5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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Yes, absolutely. It was an enormous pleasure to go to the Isles of Scilly on Monday morning. I did not know that I was the first Health Secretary ever to visit the Isle of Scilly, but frankly it is so wonderful that I would really quite like to be back there before too long. The integration of health and social care that my hon. Friend mentions is happening on Scilly. It is important on Scilly, but it is actually a lesson for everywhere. I have discussed it with the new Conservative-led Cornwall Council—the first ever majority Conservative-led Cornwall Council. The team there and on the Isles of Scilly are doing a great job of integrating health and social care. Scilly, in particular, needs investment in its health infrastructure and support because it is more remote than almost anywhere else. We will deliver these things. Throughout the length and breadth of this country, we will invest in the NHS and integrate health and social care. The Isles of Scilly could hope for no better advocate than my hon. Friend.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Alba) [V]
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Yesterday’s revelations have only served to reinforce what many have suspected: a tale of chaos, deception, dishonesty and failure, including the reckless suggestion of herd immunity and chickenpox parties. While so many watched aghast, the Secretary of State chose to respond to these very serious allegations by claiming he had been too busy saving lives to even bother. My enduring memory of the Secretary of State yesterday will be of him quite literally running away from his responsibilities.

I want to focus on one vitally important matter that emerged yesterday regarding deaths in care homes. Did the Secretary of State, as alleged, categorically tell Mr Cummings and unspecified others that people would be tested before being transferred into care homes? If he did not, why then was transfer without testing the adopted policy across England and the devolved Governments, including Scotland? On 17 October last year, I asked the Secretary of State to consider tendering his resignation. Surely if all these allegations are substantiated, he must do so.

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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So many of the allegations yesterday were unsubstantiated. The hon. Gentleman’s most important point was that the Scottish Government, with their responsibilities for social care, had to respond to the same challenges and dilemmas as we did, as did other countries across Europe and across the world. We were driving incredibly hard as one United Kingdom to increase testing volumes. We successfully increased testing volumes, including through the important use of the 100,000 testing target, which had a material impact on accelerating the increase in testing, and because of this increased testing we were able to spread the use of tests more broadly. It was the same challenge for the Administration in Edinburgh as it was here in Westminster, and the best way to rise to these challenges is to do so working together.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Tuesday 12th January 2021

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
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What the evidential basis is for the use of Innova lateral flow tests for covid-19 in the asymptomatic population. (910583)

Matt Hancock Portrait The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)
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The Innova lateral flow tests for covid-19 identify a substantial proportion of those who are shedding viral load due to their covid-19. We of course identify, analyse and publish the evidential basis for the use of these tests, as with the other tests that are used in the national testing programme.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey [V]
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I would like to thank the Secretary of State for that answer, and I thank him also for his helpful response to my questions in the Select Committee last week. In that spirit, he will know that I have been pursuing the use of lateral flow tests since early November, when concerns were first raised. Unfortunately, some of those concerns continue to persist—not least when they were underscored by a communication from his Department as recently as 11 December, which stated:

“We are not currently planning mass asymptomatic testing; swab testing people with no symptoms is not an accurate way of screening the general population, as there is a…risk of giving false reassurance. Widespread asymptomatic testing could undermine the value of testing, as there is a risk of giving misleading results.”

Given those ongoing concerns, I would be most grateful if the Secretary of State committed to a meeting to consider those concerns in a bit more detail—

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Monday 21st September 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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21 Sep 2020, 12:02 a.m.

Yes, the UK Government will be providing the funding so that the devolved Administrations are able to put similar support in place. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster spoke to the First Minister of Wales over the weekend to ensure that in Wales people can get the level of support that we are introducing in England.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
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The Secretary of State is quite right: these are serious times, and we require serious answers, so can he answer the following? It has prioritised VIPs over the public; it has a failure rate of over 90% on testing targets; it has the highest voided tests of any lab, including 12,401 in a single day; it has Conservative MPs on the payroll, and it was found by the National Police Chiefs’ Council to have committed the most serious breach of standards by manipulating forensic tests. Why, then, was Randox Laboratories judged an appropriate company to be handed a £133 million contract to the exclusion of all others—or will the Secretary of State again resort to a churlish response, proving that the rules do not apply to this increasingly lawless Government?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I implore the hon. Gentleman to support all those who are working so hard to deliver the tests that people need. Every other question on testing is, “Can we have more tests, please?” and we hear stories about just how much these tests are needed. I think we should be there supporting the people who are doing the testing.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Thursday 17th September 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course, as an emergency doctor himself, he knows more than almost anyone in this House about the needs of emergency care, not least because he spent lockdown working on the frontline of our NHS. I know that everybody is grateful to him for that. I know that the £9 million expansion to Leighton Hospital, which he and I visited in November or December, is much needed, and I hope that it brings good benefits, but it is also critical that people listen to my hon. Friend’s wise words.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
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On 21 July, during this summer’s nadir of new covid cases, I pressed the Government’s chief medical officer on the need to expand testing capacity. In that meeting of the Health and Social Care Committee, he stated that he would not consider that until there was evidence of a new surge in cases. Now we are in the grip of a second wave, with mounting chaos in testing capacity. Who should resign? The Secretary of State? The chief medical officer? Or do Ministers in this Government resign only when they refuse to break international law?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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There is record testing capacity, which we work across the whole UK to deliver.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Thursday 16th July 2020

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (SNP) [V]
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A learning culture is the hallmark of any robust patient safety strategy, and being able to own, reflect on and learn from past errors is a defining characteristic of that. Across health and social care, that tone is set by the Secretary of State, so when concerns such as those of Professor John Edmunds about the loss of life relating to the timing of lockdown are raised, it behoves him not to be dismissive but to take them seriously. How can clinical staff and the wider public have confidence in the Secretary of State’s leadership, when they can readily fact check that his assertions were wrong?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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The last bit of the question was a bit broad.  Not all my assertions have been wrong, but I do learn and try to learn. Indeed, I have discussed openly some of the things that went badly and wrong judgments, as well as things that have gone well. I have referenced, for instance, the fact that when we first brought in guidance on funerals, it had the impact of too many people staying away—spouses who might have been married for 50 years. We changed that, because it was an error. Absolutely, the learning culture is important. It is important that it is set from the top, and I am happy to be open about the errors that I have made—others can be open about their errors—and learn. I also think it is important to be robust where you think you have made a decision correctly.

Covid-19: R Rate and Lockdown Measures

Debate between Neale Hanvey and Matt Hancock
Monday 8th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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Yes. I think the whole House will join me and my hon. Friend in thanking all carers, paid and unpaid, in this Carers Week. This Carers Week is so different from normal because of what has happened during coronavirus. One of the things we have seen during coronavirus is that people have got together to celebrate and thank our carers right across the board. He is absolutely right to raise the point that he does, and I will certainly look into it.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Ind) [V]
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8 Jun 2020, 12:04 a.m.

No one wants to see the R number go above 1; hence the robust questioning the Secretary of State is facing. This weekend, the Government’s incongruous messaging continued. SAGE member John Edmunds told Andrew Marr that the decision not to lock down earlier had cost a lot of lives. Later in the show, the Secretary of State dismissed this view in the face of Channel 4’s “Dispatches” programme and the growing number of scientific experts who are warning that the Government’s premature relaxation of lockdown could see a significant second wave of infection. If the Government are no longer following the science provided by their own advisers, whose advice are they following?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has misquoted Professor Edmunds, and I think he should go and look at what was actually said.