But an official national report into the impact of coronavirus on maternity services last year did make clear that in at least one woman’s case she was twice denied intensive care when her doctors believed she needed it, because of a lack of beds.
During the pandemic NHS England officials have also repeatedly made the claim that no one was denied an intensive care bed.
But in August last year, The Independent reported on an NHS-funded analysis by experts at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, at the University of Oxford, which explicitly criticised the way NHS services had been organised during the pandemic and said this had contributed to women’s deaths.
The report, which would have been sent to NHS England, highlighted the case of one woman who died after being twice refused a bed in intensive care between March and May 2020 – the height of the first wave of Covid in the UK.
It said the woman presented at A&E after suffering with Covid-19 at home for a week. She was not recognised as being seriously ill and was reviewed by a junior obstetrician 11 hours later.
It said: “She deteriorated a few days later and was documented to need high dependency or intensive care but no beds were available in either high dependency or intensive care areas.”
She had a caesarean birth but again staff documented that there were no intensive care beds available for her and she was put on a general ward.
She deteriorated further, and was eventually transferred to intensive care where she died a few days later.
Appearing before MPs on the Commons health select committee, Mr Hancock said: “I did absolutely say, both in private and in public, that everybody got the Covid treatment that they needed.
"I've taken the trouble to check with the chief medical officer [Chris Whitty] and the chief scientific adviser [Patrick Vallance]. There was no point at which I was advised that people were not getting what they needed.”
Since the hearing Mr Hancock has been criticised for attempting to “re-write” history around decisions made over lockdown, PPE provision and protecting care homes.
He also claimed there was a lack of knowledge over the risks of asymptomatic transmission of the virus between people and that he should have overruled advisers on this.
The claim was dismissed as “simply untrue” by the government adviser Professor Stephen Reicher who said: “It is an old claim that has been comprehensively debunked.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.