Families sue Matt Hancock over coronavirus care home deaths

Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Downing Street, London. (PA)

The relatives of several care home residents who died from coronavirus are suing health secretary Matt Hancock.

Fay Harris is one of several family members taking action over the crisis, which has killed more than 20,000 care home residents in England and Wales since the beginning of the outbreak.

Her father Don Harris was one of up to 24 residents of Marlfield care home, in Alton, Hampshire who have died from coronavirus, according to The Sunday Times.

Mr Harris, a former Royal Marine, died on 1 May just days before his family had planned a sailing trip to celebrate his 90th birthday.

A care worker talks to a resident at a nursing home in south London. (PA)

Fay, 57, has since announced that she is applying to join legal action, alongside several bereaved family members from across the UK, to take Hancock to court over her father’s death.

“Physically my dad was fit, and he was well,” Harris said. “He always had a smile on his face. When we left him he was mobile. He was strong and he was a fighter.

“He had Alzheimer’s and had had care problems but he came through them all. He should not have died, he should have been on that birthday trip.”

Cathy Gardner, whose father died in an Oxfordshire care home on April 3, is also part of the legal action which is aiming to secure an acknowledgment from the government that its care home policy was unlawful.

Gardner said she did not blame the care home’s staff, who she said were kind and caring.

It comes after Boris Johnson was criticised for saying that "too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures".

The prime minister’s words sparked fury in the care home sector, with one charity boss calling them "clumsy and cowardly".

Hancock said care homes had done "amazing work" during the crisis and rejected Labour calls to apologise for Johnson's remark.

"The PM was explaining that because asymptomatic transmission was not known about, the correct procedures were therefore not known," Hancock said in the House of Commons.

He said the government had been "constantly learning about this virus from the start and improving procedures all the way through".

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