Yet, despite Downing Street briefing favoured friends that a meeting was taking place, the Government has now gone into denial mode about the status of talks.
And this is compounded by the Health Secretary’s arrogance during an embarrassing interview with Sky News presenter Kay Burley in which he refused to be drawn into “diary management issues”.
When Ms Burley, to her credit, pressed him again on delays to reforms, and asserted that thousands of pensioners are living in fear of losing their houses, he dismissed the premise of her question as “total rubbish”.
Total rubbish? Ministers resorting to insults like this is normally a sign that they’re in trouble and perhaps the Prime Minister was being charitable when he described Mr Hancock as “hopeless” in WhatsApp exchanges with former Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings.
What is ‘total rubbish’, however, is the Government’s refusal to publish the reform plan that Mr Johnson promised on the day that he became PM; its failure to even attempt cross-party talks with Labour and the discourtesy of Mr Hancock in refusing to respond to letters from North Yorkshire care provide Mike Padgham setting out the scale of the financial – and staffing – crises facing this embattled sector.
And, frankly, there will be no progress until a competent Health Secretary is in place who is committed to care reform and for Mr Johnson to concede that he misled voters on the day he became PM. If not, the whole situation will remain worse than ‘hopeless’ for all those families for whom care provision is a matter of life and death.
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