They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. If that’s the case, there must be an awful lot of people who are close to the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
Hancock has not had the best of weeks. On Wednesday, Dominic Cummings released a series of WhatsApps which appeared to show the Prime Minister calling the health secretary ‘hopeless’ in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Asked about the texts later, Hancock meekly replied that he ‘didn’t think’ he was that useless. Now it turns out that he isn’t exactly well-regarded by senior NHS officials either.
In an interview yesterday, the outgoing chief of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens, was asked whether he thought Matt Hancock was hopeless too. Rather than waffling on about the health secretary’s many qualities, or the importance of working constructively with government, Stevens (who has worked alongside Hancock for almost three years) decided not to answer the question at all. Instead, the NHS leader kept up an excruciating silence for around half a minute rather than say his piece. Ouch.