Furious row as minister Thérèse Coffey blames ‘wrong advice and wrong science’ for testing shambles


A FURIOUS row broke out today as a minister blamed “wrong advice and wrong science” for the testing shambles which saw Britain abandon its track and trace policy.

DWP boss Thérèse Coffey suggested that ministers could only make their decisions on the information they had in front of them at the time.

Therese Coffey said that scientists gave advice to ministers to make decisions on testing

She told Sky News this morning: “You can only make judgements based on the advice…

“I recognise things like testing capacity…

“If the science was wrong, advice at the time was wrong, I am not surprised people think we made the wrong decisions.”

Her blunt words came after MPs said health chiefs’ decision to stop mass testing in March changed the outcome of the whole coronavirus crisis.

In a damning finding, MPs on the Science and Technology Committee blasted Public Health England chiefs for the “unacceptable failure” to publish evidence to back up the decision to stop track and tracing.

Ministers are now working on getting contact tracing back up and running again, including an NHS app.

21,000 tracers have been hired with the aim to get the system going as soon as possible.

In a letter to Boris Johnson the cross party MPs said that the decision left many, especially in care homes unable to be tested “when the spread of the virus was most rampant.”

And Care Home bosses today furiously lashed out at the Government for failing to focus on them in the start of the pandemic.

Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, told the Health Select Committee this morning that there WERE “cases of people….who were symptomatic discharged into care homes.”

And he added: “We should have been focusing on care homes from the start of this pandemic. The focus was on the NHS and support was withdrawn.”

He said that testing is improving but some people are still waiting up to ten days for a test.

“We need regular testing, 2-3 times a week, if we are to really get on top of this,” he stressed.

A leaked report found today that agency staff spread coronavirus between care homes in the early days of the pandemic.

The Guardian claimed a leaked Public Health England study found workers who transmitted coronavirus across six care homes.

Paramedics are seen in face masks treating an elderly woman as the care home crisis comes into focus

In some cases, the agency staff had been brought in to cover for staff who were self-isolating to prevent the vulnerable people they looked after from becoming infected.

The paper reported the study was conducted over the Easter weekend in April, but the details were only circulated to care home providers, councils and local directors of public health last week.

It comes after Matt Hancock gave out £600million of funding last week to stop care home workers going into multiple homes.

The workers will be compensated and paid to make sure they don’t lose out by stopping some work.

More than 22,000 care home residents are estimated to have died in England and Wales, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitting there had been “an appalling epidemic in care homes”.

12,000 official deaths have been recorded from care homes so far – both inside and outside hospital.

Nearly four in ten care homes have reported outbreaks, fresh figures revealed yesterday.