he Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) was diminished to a “smoking wreck” by the coronavirus pandemic, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has stated.
In his first public look since leaving No 10 final 12 months amid the fallout from a bitter inside energy battle, Mr Cummings gave the damning evaluation of its makes an attempt to obtain PPE within the early weeks of the disaster.
Giving proof to the Commons Science and Know-how Committee, he stated the vaccination programme had solely been successful as a result of it was taken out of the fingers of civil servants and given to a newly created taskforce.
“Because the nation emerges from lockdown there needs to be an pressing, very, very laborious look by this constructing (Parliament) at what went unsuitable and why in 2020,” he stated.
“Probably the most apparent classes of that’s the unimaginable worth probably in getting science and expertise stuff proper (and) the catastrophe that may come in the event you don’t get it proper.”
Mr Cummings, a long-standing critic of the Civil Service, stated that when the pandemic struck the UK final 12 months, there had not a single entity able to making selections at “scale and tempo” when it got here to funding the science.
He stated that one of many key classes to come back out of the disaster was the necessity to go to “excessive lengths to attempt to de-bureaucratise the traditional system”.
“In February, March, April final 12 months there was no entity within the British state, zero entities, together with the Prime Minister himself, who might make speedy selections on science funding minus horrific EU procurement, state assist and so on, and so on legal guidelines,” he stated.
“No entity within the British state that might function at scale and at tempo and that was clearly disastrous.”
He stated that when it got here to the vaccination programme, he and the Authorities’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance had urged Mr Johnson to create a devoted taskforce.
“In spring 2020 you had a scenario the place the Division of Well being was only a smoking wreck by way of procurement and PPE and all of that.
“You had severe issues with the funding forms for therapeutics.
“We additionally had the EU proposal which regarded like an absolute assured programme to fail – a debacle.
“Due to this fact Patrick Vallance, the Cupboard Secretary, me and a few others stated ‘Clearly we should always take this out of the Division of Well being, clearly we should always create a separate taskforce and clearly we have now to empower that taskforce immediately with the authority of the Prime Minister’.”
Downing Road defended the response of the DHSC to the pandemic pointing to its achievement in establishing “one of many largest diagnostic networks in UK historical past”.
“Covid challenged well being techniques all over the world,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman stated.
“We’ve got procured over 9 million objects of PPE, we have now established the NHS Take a look at and Hint system which has contacted tens of millions of individuals and requested them to isolate.
“DH and the NHS had been central to the rollout of the vaccination programme.”
The Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton whose appointment reportedly sparked the row which led to Mr Cummings’ departure, added: “Dominic Cummings was a valued member of the Prime Minister’s employees.
“He was the chief of employees, he was an enormously vital participant within the Prime Minister’s group and what he chooses to do is his enterprise.”
Well being Secretary Matt Hancock refused to be drawn on the matter throughout Wednesday’s press convention, saying the vaccination rollout had been a “large group effort”.
He stated: “It’s been an terrible lot of individuals pulling collectively to make it occur.”
In his proof, Mr Cummings stated that the pandemic had underlined the necessity for an unbiased company to fund progressive scientific analysis which he had been engaged on earlier than he was ousted from No 10.
Beneath Authorities plans the Superior Analysis & Invention Company (Aria) can have a £800 million funds to spend money on “excessive danger, excessive reward” tasks.
Mr Cummings stated that if it was to be successful it might want “excessive freedom” to behave, stripping out all of the “horrific forms” round Whitehall procurement and Treasury guidelines.
“It needs to be going off to folks on the far edges of the science world and speaking to them about what is admittedly worthwhile,” he stated.