Nick Ferrari's fiery interview with Tory peer over government's pandemic preparedness

21 April 2020, 08:49 | Updated: 21 April 2020, 12:53

This Conservative peer told LBC that she felt the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic is a success, so Nick Ferrari went through all the issues one-by-one.

Baroness Blackwood was also a Health Minister during Operation Cygnus, the project to discover the government's preparedness for a pandemic.

Nick asked her what lessons were learnt from it and why the UK didn't get more PPE and ventilators after it.

She insisted the government were very well-prepared and did indeed learn the lessons from Operation Cygnus - and the interview got quite fiery.

Nick Ferrari's interview with Baroness Blackwood got very fiery
Nick Ferrari's interview with Baroness Blackwood got very fiery. Picture: PA / LBC

Nick was also frustrated that Public Health England have a budget of £4.51billion, but he feels they have spent more time telling people to eat five portions of fruit a day than fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Baroness Nicola Blackwood was a former Health Minister under Theresa May and Boris Johnson and she told Nick that the budget was actually £300million and claimed he got his information from an incorrect Sun newspaper article.

But Nick countered: "No, this is from the government website, which states 'The Public Health England annual budget is £4.51billion'. That's not an article in The Sun. That's what's known as the government website Baroness.

"I'm puzzled that you, as a former Health Minister, don't know the budget of Public Health England. You said it was different, but it all comes under that quango."

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The Baroness insisted that the budget is allocated in a different way - the £4.51billion is the total for local government health services and Public Health England gets just £300million of that.

Nick again asked: "So this government website is wrong, is it, where it says the annual budget is £4.51billion. That's wrong is it?

"Why are you seeking to mislead my listeners?"

Baroness Blackwood responded: "I'm just trying to be helpful. £300million goes to Public Health England, the body. And the rest of it goes to alcohol and drug services, on sexual health services, on services at a local level."

This is a must-watch - see it at the top of the page.

On their budget, Public Health England say: "PHE’s annual budget from government is just shy of £300million – which is about half the cost of a district hospital. The 4.5bn figure is the amount the Treasury allocates to local government for local public health services – not PHE budget."