26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Union calls out ‘cowardly’ attacks

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The union representing senior United Kingdom Public Servants has accused Ministers of focusing on saving their careers instead of the lives of Coronavirus victims by authorising “cowardly and shameful” anonymous briefings against some senior officials.

General Secretary of the FDA union, Dave Penman said smears by unnamed Downing Street sources against Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Public Service, Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured) and Public Health England (PHE) executives showed that some within Government were putting self-preservation first.

It comes amid concern across Whitehall that Cabinet Ministers and their Special Advisers are mounting a concerted effort to pass the blame for the UK’s faltering response to the pandemic on to officials.

Government sources were quoted as claiming that Sir Mark had failed to get a grip on the Public service, while PHE officials had not placed enough emphasis on Coronavirus testing and National Health Service England officials had failed to control personal protective equipment (PPE) supply.

Mr Penman said some in Government were ignoring the dedication of Public Servants and instead using them as scapegoats.

“As pressure mounts over the capacity for Coronavirus testing and the supply of PPE and ventilators, finding someone to blame rather than fixing the problem seems to be the priority for some at the heart of Government,” Mr Penman said.

“Right now, we need Ministers and their advisers focusing on saving lives, not their careers.”

His comments came after a newspaper article quoted a source close to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson saying that Sir Mark was under scrutiny for failing to control Government Departments.

In a following article, a “senior figure” told a newspaper that National Health Service England was being blamed by Ministers for failing to get a grip on PPE supply.

London, 7 April 2020

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