MATT Hancock wanted to decide “who should live and who should die” if hospitals were overwhelmed in the pandemic, the former head of NHS England has claimed.

Lord Simon Stevens, who was chief executive of the health service south of the Border from 2014 to 2021, said Hancock wanted to call the shots if the NHS became overwhelmed instead of “the medical profession or the public”.

In a written witness statement read out at the UK Covid Inquiry on Thursday, Lord Stevens said: “The secretary of state for health and social care took the position that in this situation he – rather than, say, the medical profession or the public – should ultimately decide who should live and who should die.

“Fortunately this horrible dilemma never crystallised.”

Asked about his evidence at the inquiry, Lord Stevens added: “I certainly wanted to discourage the idea that an individual secretary of state, other than in the most exceptional circumstances, should be deciding how care would be provided.

“I felt that we are well served by the medical profession, in consultation with patients to the greatest extent possible, in making those kinds of decisions.”

Hancock resigned as health secretary in 2021 after it was revealed he had broken Covid rules while embarking on an extramarital affair with former civil servant Gina Coladangelo.

Lord Stevens defended Hancock from accusations in previous sessions that he was a liar saying the former health secretary could be trusted “for the most part”.

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Asked if Boris Johnson and his former top adviser Dominic Cummings (above) trusted him, Lord Stevens said he could not speak for the latter but added that his regular interactions in the autumn with the “prime minister did not give me a different sense of that”.

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He was also asked, based on evidence heard before the probe, that Hancock was “untruthful”.

“There were occasional moments of tension and flashpoints, which are probably inevitable during the course of a 15-month pandemic but I was brought up always to look to the best in people.”

He said that “for the most part, yes” he could Hancock.

Hancock lost the Conservative whip and now sits as an independent MP after he appeared on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.