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England’s chief nurse confirms she was dropped from COVID-19 press briefing

Ruth May not told why she was dropped from briefing amid Dominic Cummings travel controversy
Ruth May, England's chief nursing officer, speaking at a Downing Street press briefing during the COVID-19 crisis

Ruth May not told why she was dropped from briefing amid Dominic Cummings travel controversy

Englands chief nursing officer has confirmed she was removed from a Downing Street daily press briefing at the peak of the controversy over Dominic Cummings trip to Durham during lockdown.

Speaking during an evidence session on the NHS nursing workforce on 20 July, Ruth May told the Public Accounts Committee that she was dropped from a Number 10 press briefing on 1 June, but downplayed the incident.

Chief nurse not told why she was dropped from press briefing

It is indeed true I was dropped from a briefing but that happens to many of my colleagues as well that is a regular occurrence, she told the

Ruth May not told why she was dropped from briefing amid Dominic Cummings travel controversy

Ruth May, England's chief nursing officer, speaking at a Downing Street press briefing during the COVID-19 crisis
England's chief nursing officer Ruth May speaking at a Downing Street press briefing
during the COVID-19 crisis Picture: Alamy

England’s chief nursing officer has confirmed she was removed from a Downing Street daily press briefing at the peak of the controversy over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham during lockdown.

Speaking during an evidence session on the NHS nursing workforce on 20 July, Ruth May told the Public Accounts Committee that she was dropped from a Number 10 press briefing on 1 June, but downplayed the incident.

Chief nurse not told why she was dropped from press briefing

‘It is indeed true I was dropped from a briefing but that happens to many of my colleagues as well – that is a regular occurrence,’ she told the committee, which oversees government spending and the actions of government officials.

‘I was also asked to attend another briefing later in June but I got stuck in traffic for that one,' she added.

When asked by committee chair Meg Hillier if she knew the reason she was removed from the briefing, Ms May said: ‘I don't know why I was dropped. I do know that I was prepared to go to Number 10 at a later date.’

‘Lockdown rules were clear and applied to everyone’

Asked about her views on Mr Cummings and his actions, Ms May said: ‘In my opinion, the rules were clear and there for everyone’s safety and applied to all of us.’

When Ms Hillier suggested to Ms May that her views were the reason she was dropped from the briefing, Ms May said she could not say why the decision had been made.

‘I don't know why I was dropped – you would have to ask other people for that,’ said Ms May. ‘But, as I have said before, people are stepped up and stepped down at short notice.’

Media reports at the time of the controversy over Mr Cummings’ travel said Ms May was dropped from the briefing with health and social care secretary Matt Hancock after failing to show support for Mr Cummings’ decision.


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