Cabinet minister denies elderly refused care to prevent the NHS becoming overrun

Kate Devlin
·1-min read
Boris Johnson leads the news conference on the coronavirus at 10 Downing Street (Getty Images)
Boris Johnson leads the news conference on the coronavirus at 10 Downing Street (Getty Images)

A cabinet minister has denied elderly people were kept out of hospitals and intensive care at the height of the first wave of Covid-19 in a bid to prevent the NHS becoming overrun.

“That is just not what was happening,” Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.

The allegations were “roundly condemned by people across the NHS”, he said.

The row erupted after reports that older people were denied care to protect the NHS.

Documents drawn up at the request of Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, were used to stop elderly coronavirus patients receiving ventilation in intensive care, according to the Sunday Times.

During the first wave Matt Hancock, the health secretary, declared that "everybody who needed care was able to get that care".

The Department of Health said the triage tool commissioned by Prof Whitty and others was part of planning for a worst-case scenario and “was never distributed, or implemented".

Mr Lewis said he understood that the public wanted to feel that they and their loved ones were “getting the absolute best care that they can get”.

He added: “I know people across the NHS have always been focused on giving people the very best possible care. I also know… (these reports are) being roundly condemned by people across the NHS. It is just not what was happening. And that what they outline in terms of how the process works is just not correct, there's never been that kind of structure out there.”

Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, also said all patients had been treated equally.

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