A consultant working on Covid-19 wards at James Cook Hospital says he is “sickened” by his local MP’s support for Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings.
Neurologist Dr Neil Archibald has written to Rishi Sunak saying he believes the Richmond MP and Chancellor has compromised his personal integrity.
The MP was one of a number of Cabinet Ministers who gave their support to the Prime Minister’s special adviser, who has been accused of breaching lockdown regulations by making at least one trip from his London home to County Durham.
Mr Sunak retweeted a Downing Street statement defending Mr Cummings’ behaviour, adding: “Taking care of your wife and young child is justifiable and reasonable, trying to score political points over it isn’t.”
Taking care of your wife and young child is justifiable and reasonable, trying to score political points over it isn’t. https://t.co/QVkFmKgOsW
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) May 23, 2020
In a letter to the MP, Dr Archibald said he realised that politicians had to make difficult compromises at times.
However, he added: “Compromising your personal integrity, particularly given the mounting evidence against Mr Cummings, has left me very disappointed both in you, and for you.
“I suspect that, deep down you know that what he has done is wrong. You will also be well aware that many others have made huge sacrifices, particularly, in this constituency.
“As a consultant neurologist, working at James Cook hospital, but having been repurposed to work on the Covid wards full time since this crisis began, I feel somewhat sickened that my MP is on record, at the time of writing, in defence of his actions.
“I have seen first-hand many patients die alone, with relatives unable to visit them, and our staff attempting to comfort them by telephone.”
The doctor, who describes himself as a “lefty liberal, europhile” on his personal twitter account, said that “prioritising Mr Cumming’s career over the integrity of the infection prevention message to the country will not be easily forgotten, particularly by health professionals like me”.
“You will soon become complicit in compromising the healthcare attempts to suppress the spread of the virus. You can no longer ask people to follow guidelines if you are prepared to defend those that patently do not.
“It is clearly not too late to do the right thing but would urge you to do so swiftly. Others have resigned for somewhat lesser offences and I do not recall the Conservative party leaping to their defence in this manner. You must not apply a double standard in this situation either.”
Holly Wilkinson, campaigner from campaign group Save The Friarage, also criticised the MP for supporting the adviser.
She said: “I see this as a massive kick in the teeth for all NHS workers across the country who have been working flat out on the front-line trying to save lives whilst following the rules that have been set out by the Government, and for all those key workers who have been working hard through the crisis making sacrifices to keep themselves and their families safe.
“I am disgusted at every single person, especially our own MP Rishi Sunak, who’s supported Dominic Cummings because it doesn’t matter whether you’re a highly paid employee of the government or a general member of the public, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong and he is most certainly wrong.”
Richmondshire Today has contacted the MP’s constituency office asking if he wants to respond to the criticism.
My letter to @RishiSunak, my MP, this morning.
My personal view: his defence of Dominic Cummings is an insult to his constituents and the healthcare and key workers he is applauding every Thursday.
You can reach him on:
— Neil Archibald (@nhsarchie) May 24, 2020
Mr Cummings travelled to County Durham in March with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.
He said he feared that he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son if they became ill.
It has also been claimed that he took a second trip to the North-East in April and spent time at Barnard Castle. [kofi]