According to the Covid inquiry in UK politics, Matt Hancock believed it was his responsibility to determine who would survive and who would die in the event that the NHS became overwhelmed. Live updates on UK politics.

The National Health Service (NHS) was facing a high demand and had to limit the amount of care provided.

According to Stevens’ testimony, Matt Hancock believed that ministerial authority should determine who lives and who dies in the event of decision-making.

The secretary of state for health and social care asserted their authority to make the final decision on who should live and who should die in this scenario, rather than leaving it up to the medical community or the general public. Fortunately, this difficult predicament never came to fruition.

Stevens informs the hearing:

I wanted to make it clear that in most cases, a single secretary of state should not be the sole decision-maker for determining care.

I believed that the medical field has provided us with good care, working closely with patients to make important decisions.

Simon Stevens giving evidence to Covid inquiry

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Bethan Harris, representative for Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, is currently inquiring about the release of patients from hospitals.

According to Stevens, Matt Hancock made the decision on March 11th that individuals leaving hospitals to go to care homes would not be given priority for testing. He states that Hancock relied on clinical guidance when making this decision.

According to him, there was a realization that individuals could have Covid without displaying symptoms. However, he states that there was “uncertainty” regarding how frequently this occurred.

He states that the courts have addressed this matter and concluded that it was justifiable for ministers to prioritize testing in the manner they did. However, he believes that care homes should have been given clearer instructions on isolating individuals being admitted from hospitals.

her witness statement about whether PPE was suitable for women.

Extract from Helen MacNamara’s witness statement

Stevens agrees with MacNamara’s decision to bring up this matter. He states that the NHS was already addressing this concern at the time.

O’Connor inquires whether Stevens indeed told Boris Johnson, in response to Johnson’s inquiry, that there was no issue, as was stated in yesterday’s hearing.

According to Stevens, his statements at the meeting do not match what is being claimed. He mentions that the minutes from the meeting can be accessed, and he references them. The minutes reflect Stevens informing the PM that progress was being made on this issue and that tests were being conducted to ensure that PPE was appropriate for female individuals.

Rishi Sunak welcoming the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to the AI safety summit today.

O’Connor presents Stevens with a passage from Boris Johnson’s testimony, in which Johnson appears to suggest that he was compelled to implement a lockdown due to the NHS’s failure to address its capacity issue and bed blocking (where patients occupy space due to a lack of available adult social care outside of the hospital).

Johnson states the following:

It was extremely disheartening to realize that we were compelled to take drastic actions in order to secure the nation and safeguard the NHS. This was due to the failure of the NHS and social services to effectively address the longstanding issue of delayed discharges, also referred to as bed blocking. Prior to the outbreak, I regularly visited hospitals and discovered that approximately 30% of patients did not necessarily require acute sector beds.

Extract from Boris Johnson’s witness statement

Stevens agrees with Johnson’s statement about persistent issues in social care that result in patients being confined in hospitals instead of being able to receive care at home. However, he continues to express his thoughts:

We were told that if steps were not taken to decrease the spread of coronavirus, the number of hospital inpatients could potentially reach 200,000 or even 800,000, instead of the projected 30,000.

So you can’t say that you would be able to deal with 200,000 or 800,000 inpatients by reference to 30,000 blocked beds.

Even if all of those 30,000 beds were freed up – for every one coronavirus patient who was then admitted to that bed, there would be another five patients who needed that care but weren’t able to get it. So no, I don’t think that is a fair statement in describing the decision calculus for the first wave.

O’Connor is currently inquiring about conversations regarding potential actions in the event of the NHS being overburdened and the need for rationing of care.

In his witness statement Stevens said Matt Hancock thought that, if decisions had to be taken about who would live and who would die, that should be a ministerial matter. He said:

The health and social care secretary believed that he should have the final say in determining who should live and who should die, instead of the medical community or the general public. Luckily, this difficult decision never came to a head.

Stevens informs the hearing:

I wanted to discourage the notion that a single secretary of state should have the authority to determine how care is delivered, unless under extraordinary circumstances.

I believe that the medical community has done a good job in collaborating with patients to the best of their ability when making important decisions.

Simon Stevens giving evidence to Covid inquiry


Did you think Hancock was honest?

Stevens replies:

I believe that making serious accusations requires solid evidence to support them. However, I have not yet seen such evidence.

O’Connor believes that Stevens is not actively addressing the question. He makes another attempt.

Did you personally feel that Hancock was someone you could trust?

Stevens responds affirmatively, stating that for the most part, the answer is yes.

When asked to clarify his statement, Stevens elaborates:

There were a few instances, over the course of a year and a half, where tensions arose. This is not unexpected, considering the circumstances everyone was working under.

UPDATE: Ben Quinn has shared the excerpt from Stevens’ statement on X.

Stevens is questioned by O’Connor about whether individuals attempted to pressure him to leave his position during the Covid pandemic.

Stevens claims that he did not receive similar statements from individuals during that period.

In January 2020, O’Connor mentions a conversation between Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Dominic Cummings, the chief adviser to the PM, where they talked about removing Stevens.

Hancock/Cummings exchanges
Cummings/Hancock exchanges

Stevens reported that both Hancock and Cummings expressed their desire for him to remain once Covid emerged.

According to O’Connor, Helen MacNamara’s witness statement mentions paragraph 71. MacNamara, who is the deputy cabinet secretary, states that those in No 10 held a somewhat idealistic and simplistic view of the NHS. She also notes that no one in No 10 had a comprehensive understanding of the NHS.

According to Stevens, this statement holds truth.

Extract from Helen MacNamara’s witness statement

O’Connor shares a different document which cites Stevens discussing the necessity for monetary assistance for individuals who had to undergo isolation.

Stevens stated that he was sharing worries he had acquired.

Did you believe that there should be additional assistance for individuals who are self-isolating?

Stevens states that it was his own perspective.

Government minute

According to O’Connor, the investigation has gathered proof of challenges in the process of making decisions, and alleges that the Prime Minister wavered between those choices. What was your perspective?

Stevens claims he did not partake in making decisions regarding lockdown.

Did you have regular meetings with the PM?

Stevens mentioned attending a meeting regarding the NHS. However, subsequent meetings resulted in decisions being made based on their acquired knowledge of the NHS.

He claims that this hinders his ability to provide insightful analysis on the decision-making procedure.

Can you not say anything?

According to Stevens, he has observed the current available evidence, some of which was not accessible previously.

According to him, he witnessed the process of making decisions regarding the implementation of the vaccine program. Overall, there was productive discussion on the necessary steps to be taken.

According to O’Connor, that topic will be discussed in the vaccines section at a later point in the investigation.

In terms of core political decision making, what was your role?

Stevens’ primary concern was to ensure that the NHS was able to provide care for both Covid patients and other patients who needed medical attention.

According to him, NHS England did not play a direct role in discussions regarding the necessity of lockdowns.

He claims to have participated in several Covid-related meetings of the Cobra emergency committee. However, he also mentions that the government eventually ceased utilizing Cobra for handling Covid affairs.

Can you clarify what you meant by stating that these meetings were not “optimally effective”?

According to Stevens, the meetings were excessively large and this was not beneficial. Additionally, there were instances where ministers did not possess complete authority.

When Matt Hancock was in charge, there were instances where junior ministers from other departments attended.

Stevens is not stating that there was a cause and effect relationship.

Can you clarify what you mean by that?

Stevens states that he is merely stating his observations.

Were there any senior ministers who would have attended had the PM been leading those meetings?

According to Stevens, had Boris Johnson been leading the meeting, other government officials may have also been present. However, he is uncertain if their presence would have significantly affected the decisions that were made.

Extract from Stevens’ witness statement

Simon Stevens is currently providing evidence at the Covid inquiry.

Andrew O’Connor, an attorney representing the inquiry, is currently questioning him.

The text starts by discussing the role of NHS England and clarifying that it operates independently from the Department of Health and Social Care. O’Connor notes that Matt Hancock did not have direct authority over Simon Stevens. Stevens adds that he often felt like he had multiple superiors.

here and here).

Stevens, along with Sir Chris Wormald, the permanent secretary of the Department of Health and Social Care, who is scheduled to speak later this morning, may both be questioned about these allegations.

Three articles evaluating the potential hazards of artificial intelligence.

Rishi Sunak speaking to reporters this morning at the Bletchley Park AI safety summit.

The Bletchley declaration has been made, but the government has stated that they will not hastily enforce regulations. As a result, this event will not result in new laws being implemented within the UK. However, the Labour party has recognized a chance and is now declaring their intention to swiftly impose regulations on companies working with cutting-edge AI technology.

According to Peter Kyle, the shadow secretary of science,

AI holds the power to revolutionize society and provide transformative advantages for the labor force. Whether it’s enabling earlier detection of cancer or alleviating traffic congestion, AI has the potential to bring about positive change.

In order to obtain these advantages, we must address the potential risks and earn the confidence of the public. It is unacceptable for our passive prime minister to declare that he will not hastily make decisions, while also warning the public of national security threats that could jeopardize our way of life. The AI summit presented a chance for the UK to take charge in the international discussion on effectively regulating this influential new technology. However, the prime minister has fallen behind the US and EU, who are implementing concrete measures to safeguard the technology.

Labour announced its plan in a statement, stating that…

A Labour administration would promptly implement mandatory guidelines for companies that are creating the most advanced ‘frontier’ artificial intelligence. This would encompass stipulations such as:

• Submit a report prior to training models above a specific threshold of capability.

Perform safety testing and evaluation on these models under the supervision of an independent party.

• Ensure robust measures for safeguarding information security to minimize the accidental dissemination of hazardous models.

Later today, we will receive further information on this topic. Before that, this morning, the two highest-ranking individuals in the National Health Service at the time of the outbreak of the coronavirus will provide testimony to the Covid investigation.

This is the schedule for today.

At 10am, Simon Stevens, the previous CEO of NHS England, provides testimony to the Covid investigation. Following this, Sir Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care, also gives testimony in the morning.

At 10am, the London Assembly interviews Sir Mark Rowley, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London.

At noon, Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, will be answering questions from MSPs.

At 2pm, Professor Yvonne Doyle, formerly the medical director of Public Health England, presents testimony to the inquiry on Covid.

At approximately 4pm, Rishi Sunak will lead a press conference to wrap up the AI safety summit being held at Bletchley Park.

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