Statutory sick pay not enough for health secretary as he announces NHS package

Health secretary Matt Hancock admitted he could not live on statutory sick pay as he announced a new

Health secretary Matt Hancock admitted he could not live on statutory sick pay as he announced a new package for the NHS Picture: KIRSTY O'CONNOR/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has said he could not live on statutory sick pay as he announced 2.6 million more facemasks for NHS staff.

Mr Hancock appeared on the panel for a special edition of BBC’s Question Time on Thursday, March 19, to answer questions about the current coronavirus situation.

When asked if he could live on statutory sick pay – £94.25 a week – the cabinet minister bluntly answered “no”, but suggested the chancellor could announce further financial measures to help tackle the economic fallout.

Mr Hancock said: “I’m not going to prejudge what the Chancellor’s going to say tomorrow, but all I can say is: mark my words, we will do everything we can to make sure people are supported through this,”

The episode was the first in the show’s history to be filmed without a studio audience.

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On the topic of healthcare, Mr Hancock was asked by a junior doctor in Weston-super-Mare about how NHS equipment would be rationed as her “frightened” colleagues become “overwhelmed”.

Mr Hancock said a “massive effort” was under way to deliver personal protective equipment to NHS staff and social care providers battling the virus on the frontline.

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He said: “I can tell you that over the last 24 hours we’ve shipped 2.6 million masks, 10,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, and we have a growing effort to get that equipment to the frontline.

“Overnight we’re going to get 150 hospitals the next pack of protective equipment that they need. We’ve got all this in storage in case there’s a pandemic like this and there are literally lorries on the road right now.

“Some hospitals will get it overnight tonight and then the rest will get their next load before the end of the weekend.”

On the topic of ventilators – which the government has made a plea for from manufacturers – Mr Hancock said there has been an “amazing response”.

He said 1,400 companies have so far come forward to say they are willing to turn their capabilities to produce the equipment, which are seen as essential to saving lives from the virus.

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