‘Peculiar’ Britons should stop going to work when sick, says Hancock

The Health Secretary said that after the coronavirus pandemic he would like diagnostic facilities to be used for other illnesses.

A man sneezing
A man sneezing

Britons should stop “soldiering on” and going to work when they are sick, potentially making colleagues ill, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said people in the UK are “peculiarly unusual and outliers” for still going to work when unwell.

He told a joint session of the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee that the nation should continue to use the “global-scale diagnostics capability” it has built.

“Afterwards we must use it, not just for coronavirus, but everything,” he told MPs.

“I want to have a change in the British way of doing things where ‘if in doubt, get a test’ doesn’t just refer to coronavirus but refers to any illness that you might have.

“Why in Britain do we think it’s acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill?

“I think that’s something that is going to have to change.

“If you have, in future, flu-like symptoms, you should get a test for it and find out what’s wrong with you, and if you need to stay at home to protect others, then you should stay at home.

“We are peculiarly unusual and outliers in soldiering on and still going to work, and it kind of being the culture that ‘as long as you can get out of bed you still should get into work’. That should change.

“This year there’s been far fewer respiratory and other communicable diseases turning up in the NHS.

“I want this massive diagnostics capacity to be core to how we treat people in the NHS so that we help people to stay healthy in the first place, rather than just looking after them when they’re ill.”

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