Matt Hancock used the phrase ‘protective ring’ about care homes long before he claims

8 June 2021
What was claimed

Matt Hancock used the phrase “protective ring” to describe the government’s winter Covid-19 plan, and claims to the contrary misinterpret his comments.

Our verdict

Mr Hancock appears to have first used this phrase about care homes on 15 May 2020 to describe action taken during the first wave of the pandemic.

During an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 6 June, Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied claims that he had spoken about throwing a “protective ring” around care homes at the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Asked by Mr Marr if he regretted his use of the phrase “protective ring”, Mr Hancock said: “Well I said that much later, about what we were doing for the winter plan, and it’s been interpreted.”

But Mr Hancock actually did use the phrase multiple times in May 2020, to describe action taken during the first wave of the pandemic. 

During a Downing Street press conference on 15 May, 2020, Mr Hancock said: “Right from the start, it’s been clear that this horrible virus affects older people most. So right from the start, we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes.”

Days later on 18 May 2020, when questioned on this wording, Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “We absolutely did throw a protective ring around social care, not least with the £3.2 billion-worth of funding we put in right at the start, topped up with £600 million-worth of funding on Friday.” 

He used the phrase again, a day later, telling MPs: “I am glad that we have been able to protect the majority of homes, and we will keep working to strengthen the protective ring that we have cast around all our care homes.”

The level of protection given to care homes during the first wave of the pandemic has been under increased scrutiny following criticism by the prime minister’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.

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