July 13, 2020

Matt Hancock answers your questions

Your Questions Answered by: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Thank you for submitting your question in our Party’s new newsletter. We’ve had a truly overwhelming response.

For any questions I haven’t been able to answer,  the government is keeping an updated list of frequently asked questions here.

I am desperate to see my mum who is in a nursing home when will I be able to visit her?Tracey from Anderton

I know how difficult recent months have been for so many families. However hard it has been, we can be proud that all of our actions have worked – we are getting the virus under control and carefully reopening parts of our economy.

We have issued specific guidance to care homes, so it’s always best to talk with them about how to facilitate family get togethers. I know many have been looking at really innovative ways of bringing relatives together. The Government has tried to support this with the use of technology, connecting families by video link.

If retail shops can open, then can museums also open provided that they follow similar rules? Rebecca from Hereford

Yes! I’m delighted we’ve announced museums and galleries can now reopen. We know how tough recent months have been for these fantastic assets across our country, so I hope everyone gets out to support them when they reopen.

As the Prime Minister has explained, we’re currently meeting all five of our tests for easing lockdown measures, and the Covid Alert Level has recently moved from 4 down to 3. That means we can proceed with the next steps in our plan to restore our way of life, including the reopening of galleries and museums.

When we’re out and about we must of course remember to follow social distancing rules and keep washing our hands often. We’ve also published guidance to help venues like museums open and operate in a way that keeps both staff and customers as safe as possible.

When will cancer screening services such as the Breast screening program restart?Sandy from Wokingham

I completely understand these concerns. I know how worried many people were when the pandemic struck that this would impact our cancer screening and treatment services. While our NHS was under huge strain due to Coronavirus, we protected emergency, cancer treatment and other care to ensure it could continue unaffected. And I’m delighted that we are now pushing ahead with the restoration and recovery of all cancer services as quickly as possible.

21 cancer alliances across England now have arrangements in place for cancer hubs. These are hospitals dedicated to cancer care away from hospitals dealing with the virus to keep often vulnerable cancer patients safe.

The most important thing to say is that if someone is worried about a lump or other abnormality, they should get it checked out. Hospitals are open – and people shouldn’t be afraid to use them.

What is the update for those shielding and vulnerable? – Anna from Worcester

I firstly want to pay tribute to all those who have been shielding for so many weeks. I know this has been incredibly tough. Shielding has involved not leaving your house for months, not seeing people you care about, not being able to wander to the park for some fresh air, or even pop to the shops for something you need. This sacrifice has been for a purpose, and I want to thank every single one of you.

We knew it was a difficult ask, but these measures have been vital in saving lives. Now, with infection rates continuing to fall in our communities, our medical experts have advised that we can ease some of these measures, while keeping people safe.

Those shielding from Coronavirus can now gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors, while maintaining social distancing. Those who live alone or who are single parents with children are also able to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size. From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield.

I have been writing to all individuals on the Shielded Patient List with updated information on shielding advice and the ongoing support that will be available to them.

What is the plan now for the Nightingale hospitals? How can these facilities be best used to support the NHS? – Sarah from Windsor

This Nightingale Hospital project stands as a monument to this nation’s ability to get things done when it matters. It shows what’s possible when we come together as one team, in one national effort.

I pay tribute to the extraordinary work of everyone getting each built in less than a fortnight. The NHS, the military, the construction industry who both donated supplies and of course their expertise, the engineers, the electricians, the plumbers, the caterers and others, all played their part to ensure our NHS has the capacity it needs.

Coronavirus is still with us and the Nightingales still have a role to play as the NHS brings back non-urgent services. So we will be converting Nightingale Hospitals into cancer testing centres, starting with Nightingale Exeter.

Our NHS is open, so if you have symptoms or concerns, please come forward.

My partner and I live separately. Can we form a bubble? – Louise from Camberley

Yes, if at least one of you lives alone and you don’t bubble with anyone else. Enjoy!
Region Labour's Pension Tax (£) Extra Months to Work
England 11,167 44
East Midlands 6,150 50
Greater London 12,871 45
North East 9,758 38
North West 6,835 47
South East 14,270 40
South West 7,407 45
West Midlands 10,729 41
Northern Ireland 13,718 35
Scotland 10,653 41
Wales 11,691 36
United Kingdom 11,253 43

Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:

“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”

Read more about how this Pension Tax will impact millions of savers (PDF)