An NHS doctor who hasn’t seen his parents since January has threatened to resign by the end of the week if Dominic Cummings has not done so by then.
Dr Dominic Pimenta said the Prime Minister’s chief adviser ‘spits in the face of all our efforts’ after it emerged he travelled 260 miles to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family, despite official guidelines warning against long-distance journeys.
The cardiology registrar, who works on the frontline in a coronavirus intensive care unit, tweeted a picture of himself wearing the protective equipment he has needed for the past two months, saying: ‘This stuff is hot and hard work.’
He said he will announce his decision to quit by the end of the week if Mr Cummings is still in his position, adding he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if other NHS staff did the same.
It comes after Boris Johnson and his top ministers were accused of risking the Government’s pandemic efforts by defending Mr Cummings.
During Sunday’s Downing Street press conference, the PM said Mr Cummings had ‘acted responsibly, legally and with integrity’ and that ‘any parent would frankly understand what he did’.
Dr Pimenta said: ‘I found it incredibly insulting to see the whole cabinet doubling down on this issue and undermining the public who are working incredibly hard to follow the guidance, it’s a betrayal.
‘NHS staff have bent over backwards to meet this incredible challenge, spending hundreds of extra hours in meetings and drawing up timetables to care for patients.
‘I do think it’s still early days yet, but I’ll give them until the end of the week for Mr Cummings to resign before I do.
‘I’m not trying to lead a movement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more did the same.’
He added: ‘There needs to be an apology from the Government, cabinet members cannot continue to insult health workers like this, many feel incredibly disrespected, like all their hard work and energy has been thrown back in their faces.’
Tory backbenchers have torn into Mr Johnson over his handling of the row, while scientists claimed that the defence of Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the lockdown rules undermined efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Further reports also suggested he took a second trip to the North East in April, having already returned to London following his recovery from coronavirus – a disease which has seen more than 45,000 people in the UK die after contracting it, according to the latest available data.
Mr Cummings denied the fresh allegations, while Downing Street said the PM’s top aide made the first trip to County Durham apparently because he feared that he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son if their symptoms became more severe.
Former Conservative minister Paul Maynard saying he shared people’s ‘dismay’ at the response.
‘It is a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ – and it is not as if he was unfamiliar with guidance he himself helped draw up,’ he said.
Veteran Conservative Sir Roger Gale said: ‘I’m very disappointed, I think it was an opportunity to put this to bed and I fear that now the story is simply going to run and run.’
Somerton and Frome MP David Warburton said he was ‘unconvinced’ by the PM’s defence of Mr Cummings.
Scientists advising the Government also strongly criticised the Prime Minister.
Social psychologist Professor Stephen Reicher, one of the scientists on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) – a subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which is advising ministers through the crisis – said Mr Johnson had ‘trashed’ their advice.
Fellow SPI-B member Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London (UCL), said the public must continue to socially distance despite the ‘confusion and misinformation’ created by the Government.
Prof West said: ‘Dominic Cummings won’t suffer if we abandon it, the Prime Minister won’t suffer – it will be the people who we love who will suffer.
‘Although we are fighting a rear guard action constantly against Government confusion and misinformation, we have to really keep hammering home this message.’
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Source: Metro News UK