A new book exposes the tensions between the Treasury and health officials over the COVID-19 vaccine programme, and alleges that Steve Barclay delayed the approval of the programme due to value-for-money concerns, angering the vaccine taskforce.

A new book about the NHS has alleged that Steve Barclay, now Health Secretary, delayed the Treasury’s approval of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, causing frustration among health officials.

The book, Fighting for Life: The Twelve Battles That Made Our NHS, and the Struggle for Its Future by journalist Isabel Hardman claims that the hold-up was due to concerns about the project’s value for money. A senior figure in the vaccine programme said:

“He was a total dick, a total control freak but also not very good at it.

“He refused to sign off the vaccine programme for ages, saying ‘Is it value for money?’”

However, Steve Barclay has denied these allegations, insisting that he took a “significant risk and acted early.” An ally of Barclay supported this assertion, citing a timeline of his meetings and correspondence that demonstrated swift action on his part.


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