James O’Brien caller: 'Hancock on I’m a Celebrity brings back memories of my dying mother'

10 November 2022, 13:23

Seeing Matt Hancock on I'm a Celebrity 'brought back' painful memories

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

This caller told James O’Brien Matt Hancock's presence on I'm a Celebrity has forced her to relive her painful experience of not being able to hug her late mother during the pandemic.

Lisa from Sheffield told James O’Brien the former health secretary's presence in the jungle “brought back” difficult memories of her being unable to embrace her mother, who was suffering with dementia in a residential home.

She said: “My mum passed away in April of this year, so it’s quite raw what happened to us in the family.”

She continued: “My mum was in a residential home for four years but she suffered from dementia. The two years of the last part of her life, we weren’t able to see her.”

Mr Hancock was forced to defend his handling of the pandemic, after initially failing to make Covid testing mandatory for all hospital discharges returning to care homes.

Some of the UK’s biggest care home operators said they repeatedly warned his department about the risk, but it did not become official policy until mid-April 2021, after the first wave death toll had peaked weeks later.

The call comes amid an ongoing COVID-19 Inquiry into the UK’s response to the virus and its impact on the country.

Matt Hancock was Health Secretary at the time, and resigned after breaching his own government guidelines on social distancing when he was caught cheating.

He is now in the I’m a Celebrity jungle in Australia and was suspended for agreeing to go on the show, with Conservative Chief Whip Simon Hart describing his actions as “serious”.

Read more: James O'Brien dissects his feelings about Matt Hancock being in I'm A Celeb

In a heart-breaking point familiar to many who had loved ones in care homes during the pandemic, Lisa said: “We weren't able to touch her, we weren't able to hug her. We had to see her in a box outside with a screen, she was touching it all the time to touch us.”

“People with dementia just want a hug, they want to see people who are familiar to them”, she said, the emotion weighing heavy in her voice.

“I feel Matt Hancock brought it all back to us as a family”, Lisa said. “I don’t really say that I hate the man, but what he brings to our lives now, it all comes back to us.”

“It’s very fresh in your memory and in your minds obviously”, James agreed.

On the people supporting Boris Johnson’s actions during the pandemic, he added: “They’ve sort of just waltzed away from it all. Johnson claiming, all of his allies claiming he got all the big calls right while you’re looking at some really traumatic memories right up to and including loss!”

Lisa added how her two sons weren’t able to go in and see their grandmother, because visits were restricted to two people.

“It was the worst thing ever”, she said, reminiscing of how her mother could no longer remember their names.
“It’s just not right”, James put in.

“Everybody’s got a story to tell about COVID, and this is my story”, Lisa said.

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