Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the UK government has insisted that its decisions and policies have been led by the scientific advice on the virus. It’s a commitment that has allowed the government to convince the public that drastic interventions to stop the disease have been necessary. But, equally, there have been criticisms in some quarters that the scientists advising Number 10 have been used as human shields for the mistakes and unpopular policies of politicians.
Health minister Helen Whately did nothing to allay those fears when she appeared on Sky News this morning. Asked by presenter Kay Burley about the government decision to discharge patients to care homes without a coronavirus test (to free up hospital capacity), Whately attempted to reiterate the mantra that ‘we were following the science’ at all times. When Burley pointed out though that this was a policy decision, and that ‘you can’t stick this on the scientists’, Whately unfortunately replied ‘I can'. Needless to say, the Health minister didn't wait long to start backtracking furiously.
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) June 9, 2020
#KayBurley - You took the scientific advice on care homes & then you made the policy... you can't stick this on the scientists.Helen Whately - I can... 🤔 pic.twitter.com/dwKwoGox83
At least Whately seems to have taken one scientific principle to heart on her broadcast round this morning: the importance of trial and error.