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‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ – UK Home Secretary Patel savaged for non-apology to NHS workers

‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ – UK Home Secretary Patel savaged for non-apology to NHS workers
As Britain’s beleaguered healthcare workers fall ill with Covid-19, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she’s sorry they feel angry, but not for her government’s role in equipment shortages. Her remark only fuelled further anger.

As the coronavirus death toll in the UK climbed to just under 10,000 on Saturday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that 19 health workers have died after contracting the deadly virus. The workers themselves have blamed the government for failing to provide enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and have become increasingly angry since Hancock insisted on Friday that “there’s enough PPE to go around,” and that workers should treat this gear “like the precious resource that it is.”

In a press conference on Saturday, Home Secretary Priti Patel was grilled on the shortage, and was asked to apologize for apparently leaving frontline workers exposed. However, she couldn’t quite bring herself to admit failure.

“I’m sorry if people feel that there have been failings,” she said. When asked whether she would apologize directly for the shortages, she remained evasive. “I’ve been very clear in what I have said, and I’m sorry that people feel that way,” she snapped.

Patel was savaged online for her “half-apology.” Her statement was “more akin to a cast member of the Housewives of NYC rather than a Cabinet Minister during a world pandemic,” journalist Victoria O’Hara wrote.

Much of the public anger toward the British government seems to stem not from the shortages themselves, but from the government’s insistence that it is prepared. A spokeswoman from the Royal College of Nursing told the BBC on Saturday that Hancock’s statement implied that “healthcare workers are abusing or overusing PPE.” Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called it “insulting to imply frontline staff are wasting PPE” and said the government “must act to ensure supplies are delivered.”

Amid the furor, Patel was unequivocal about one thing: the police response to anyone thinking of disobeying lockdown orders this weekend. “If you don't play your part,” she told the public on Saturday, “our selfless police, who are out there risking their own lives to save others, will be unafraid to act.”

Nearly 80,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the UK thus far, and just under 10,000 people have died. Worldwide, more than 1.7 million people have been diagnosed with the virus, and 106,000 have passed away.

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