Matt Hancock was asked how he could look any health worker in the face and claim he was managing the pandemic properly by an intensive care unit nurse this morning.
The Health Secretary was confronted with a pre-recorded question from Dave Carr in an excruciating live TV interview.
Mr Hancock was caught on camera glaring at the comments from the NHS worker, before shaking out of it after being pushed for an answer.
Nurse Mr Carr asked: ‘How can he seriously look any health worker in the face and tell us he is stewarding the NHS and managing this pandemic properly?
‘We are doing this understaffed, we are doing this underpaid. The insult we got earlier this year with no pay rise with what we done in Covid really, really hurt us.’
Matt Hancock gives the thumbs up today leaving the Milbank television studios in Westminster
Matt Hancock was shown glaring at ICU nurse Dave Carr during his pre-recorded question
It came after the government announced a further 54,990 coronavirus cases and 454 deaths in a bleak weekend update.
And so far 2,599,789 have had the disease in the UK since the pandemic began, with 74,570 killed by the virus.
Hancock, who was staring at the grimly at the GMB video, was asked for his response by host Susanna Reid and quickly snapped out of the glare.
He said: ‘Well the staff across the NHS have done an absolutely brilliant job, there are huge pressures now in some parts of the country, including in London.
There had been a further 54,990 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus and 454 more deaths
Britain records more than 50,000 coronavirus cases for the FIFTH day in a row – but deaths dip to 445 – as doctors warn crisis will get much worse and situation in packed London hospitals is ‘MILD compared to what’s coming next week’
Britain has recorded more than 50,000 Covid-19 cases for the fifth day in a row but hospital deaths from the virus have dipped to fewer than 500.
Another 57,725 had positive test results in the last 24 hours, meaning 2,599,789 have had the disease in the UK since the pandemic began.
The country also saw an additional 445 deaths, taking the total official count to 74,570 – but 90,000 people in total have died with Covid-19 written on their death certificate.
And experts are warning jam-packed hospitals that the current number of coronavirus cases is ‘mild’ compared to what is coming next week – as the new more-contagious Covid strain continues to wreak havoc on the UK.
President of the Royal College of Physicians Professor Andrew Goddard also noted healthcare workers in Britain are ‘really worried’ about the battle against the virus over the next few months.
Today’s grim figures come as the first batches of the newly-approved coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca arrive at UK hospitals ahead of the jab’s rollout tomorrow.
Some 530,000 doses of the jab will be available from Monday – with vulnerable people taking priority – as Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the inoculation drive is ‘accelerating’.
One of the first hospitals to take delivery of a batch on Saturday morning was the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, which is part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.
But Sir John Bell, a Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and member of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), said insufficient investment in the capacity to make vaccines has left Britain unprepared.
He also said the country lacks medical supply firms to build essential components to make the jab, forcing Oxford scientists to import parts from abroad.
‘I’m very pleased that actually earlier in the year we were able to give a pay rise, a significant pay rise to all NHS nurses, right across the board
‘There is a mission in the NHS which is to care for people and they’re working – all colleagues in the NHS – are working incredibly hard to do that.’
But he was pressed further by Susanna on a shortage of nurses available to work on treating sick patients.
She asked him: ‘When are you going to fill the nursing shortage, firstly on the pay rise, significant is not the way Dave Carr described that pay rise, but what about the numbers, you are so short of nurses it’s not surprising, some of these nurses he says are experiencing PTSD, you are going to lose nurses rather than gain them right now.’
But Mr Hancock shot back and insisted: ‘Over the past year we have seen an increase of 13,000 of the number of nurses we have in the NHS, including some retired nurses coming back, but largely that’s new nurses coming into the NHS.
‘The fact that a vocation in healthcare and the NHS is so rewarding has in fact been reinforced so I know a lot of people thought we would lose people from the NHS because of the pandemic and because of the pressures of work
‘That 40,000 figure doesn’t include people that fit spaces on a temporary basis. We have managed to increase the number of doctors.’
But NHS hospitals in the West Country are already braced for an overspill of critically-ill patients from London under current emergency plans.
Trusts in the capital and the south-east are preparing to transfer patients to the south-west.
Patients in the east of England will be moved to the Midlands while the massive Nightingale field hospital at the London Excel Centre is also expected to reopen within a fortnight amid warnings the health service could collapse in the event that ‘very, very tired’ staff are unable to cope with a deluge of cases.
Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, claimed that people as young as 30 are suffering from coronavirus in ICU wards and said ‘younger people will die from Covid’.
The surge in cases and deaths could lead to a third national lockdown as Sir Keir Starmer yesterday demanded a new blanket squeeze to control the virus while Boris Johnson admitted tougher measures were ‘probable’.
The Labour leader dramatically called for draconian countermeasures to come into force within 24 hours, condemning the PM for ‘hinting’ at action while dragging his heels.
‘The virus is clearly out of control,’ Sir Keir told Sky News. ‘It is no use the PM hinting that more restrictions are coming.
‘I say bring in those restrictions now.’
He added that it was ‘inevitable’ more schools will have to close: ‘The longer you delay the decisions the worse it is.’
Health officials have warned that people as young as 30 ‘will die from Covid’ in the pandemic
Two thirds of England’s population is now in Tier 4, with the rest living in Tier 3 lockdowns
The PM has refused to rule out a third national lockdown, telling the BBC he is ‘reconciled’ to imposing further massive restrictions on public life in a bid to stamp out the virus.
Mr Johnson’s effort to reopen schools was shattered by councils and unions who claim schools are too unsafe for children and staff, while scientists insist ‘mutant’ Covid spreads more rapidly among younger people.
SAGE adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport has also hinted the virus could not be controlled unless ‘tighter social distancing measures’ were brought into force, and predicted Tier 5 curbs.