Nothing matters more to me than making sure that we protect the health, dignity and rights of everybody in society, particularly those who are most vulnerable. That undoubtedly includes care home residents, and we will continue, each and every step of the way, to take the actions that we think are right and necessary to provide as much protection as possible.
Every single one of us who has been in a position of taking decisions to deal with this crisis will have made mistakes—I have no doubt about that. That is in the nature of dealing with an unprecedented situation—and doing so without the hindsight that many are now trying to apply. The responsibility of dealing with this will certainly bear heavily on me for probably the rest of my life, and I am sure that many people in my position will feel the same.
What I want to make clear is that, at every stage, based on the best information and knowledge that we have, we try to do the right things. In relation to care homes in particular, there will undoubtedly be very legitimate and hard questions for us all to reflect on—that is how we learn. However, some of what people say now fails to take account of the situation that we were dealing with.
For example, I hear people say now that care home residents should not have been discharged from hospital; however, back then, we were waiting for a potential tsunami of coronavirus cases going into our hospitals. If we had not tried to get people who did not medically require to be in hospital out of there, that would also have exposed people to very significant risks. [
.] I hear people saying “testing” from a sedentary position, which is, again, legitimate. However, we must remember that our knowledge of the efficacy of testing in asymptomatic people back then was different from what it is now.
The point that I am making is not that there are not legitimate questions—there are, and I ask myself those questions every single day. The point that I am making is that, at every step of the way, we have acted with care and thought and with the best intentions to provide the best protection for everybody, including the most vulnerable. That is what we will continue to do every step of the way.