Families of dying patients to be given 'right to say goodbye', Health Secretary announces

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given families the right to say goodbye’ as he set out plans to respond to the rising death toll in care homes.

Mr Hancock said that "wherever possible" people will be given the "chance to say goodbye" to loved ones dying with coronavirus. This follows reports of older people in care homes dying without anyone by their side and hospitals banning visitors.

New procedures would be introduced to limit the risk of infection and wherever possible give families the chance to say goodbye, he said.

At the daily briefing, Mr Hancock admitted he wept at the death of a 13-year-old boy whose family were not allowed to be with him in his final moments.

As a father of a young teenager himself he said he wanted, wherever possible, for people to be able to see their loved ones one last time.

Mr Hancock also announced that a new badge for social care workers would also allow the public to express their gratitude to them in the same way they do towards NHS workers. He added that the badge would help them access similar benefits to NHS staff.

Supermarkets have been asked to give care staff the same priority access as health service staff, he added.

"This badge will be a badge of honour in a very real sense, allowing social care staff proudly and publicly to identify themselves, just like NHS staff do with that famous blue and white logo,” he said.

"I know that many businesses will want to offer the same recognition and benefits as they do wonderfully to the NHS.”

The announcements come after ministers were accused of not acting swiftly enough amid a growing crisis in the UK’s care homes.