Responding to comments made by Chancellor and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the Covid Inquiry, BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield said:
“Mr Hunt talks of his ‘traumatic experience’ during a pandemic planning exercise. This pales in comparison to the intense trauma of the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who worked through the real pandemic, and is an insult to those who put their lives on the line daily in the face of a very real and very deadly virus.
“But unlike Mr Hunt, they did not have the luxury to refuse to take part. They could not walk away.
“They saw immeasurable amounts of death. They themselves became ill, and tragically hundreds of colleagues were lost to the virus. All while being isolated from family and friends, and working gruelling hours often in inadequate PPE.
“The scars – mental, emotional and physical – will take years to heal, if at all.
“So, it will be galling for colleagues to hear Mr Hunt talk of trauma at a simulation. A simulation which looked at the wrong kind of virus and from which recommendations were not acted upon.
“Just as galling is Mr Hunt’s defence of his own record of managing the NHS. He admitted that services were in crisis before Covid arrived and points to the disruption now faced by patients on the record-long waiting list.
“He blames poor workforce planning – as if he wasn’t in charge of health services for six of the last eleven years, and as if he is not the one who now, as Chancellor, has the power to fund the comprehensive NHS workforce plan that we are still so desperately waiting for.
“Like Osborne and Cameron before him this week, in Mr Hunt we have seen yet another abdication of accountability.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
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