Health Secretary described as ‘friendly and warm’ after chance encounter

The new Health Secretary was described as “very lovely, very friendly and warm” by a family who bumped into Sajid Javid after a hospital visit.

Mr Javid spoke to Chanochi Pearl, 11, and his mother Jane Pearl, 48, after they bumped into him outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Chanochi, who has a rare neurological genetic condition called familial dysautonomia, had been for an appointment at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital which is part of the same trust.

They spotted Mr Javid, who was appointed on Saturday evening just hours after Matt Hancock’s resignation, giving an interview during his first visit in his new role on Monday.

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Sajid Javid was appointed as Health Secretary following the resignation of Matt Hancock (PA)

“I was pointing him out to Chanochi,” said Mrs Pearl, a community midwife at Homerton Hospital.

“We stood and watched him for a couple of minutes and then we saw the interview finished and Chanochi started shouting ‘hello! hello!’, and he obviously heard him and came straight over.

“He was very, very lovely, very friendly and warm.”

Mrs Pearl, from Edgware, north London, said Mr Javid was very cautious and asked if it was okay to do an elbow bump and to take off his mask for the photos as they were outside.

Chanochi Pearl with the Home Secretary (Family handout/PA)
Chanochi Pearl with the Home Secretary (Family handout/PA)

“Mr Javid was asking how Chanochi was and how his treatment was with the NHS,” she added.

“I sort of praised it – he’s had the most amazing care with them and I work for the NHS as well.

“It was a really lovely, warm encounter and quite unexpected.”

Mrs Pearl added: “My husband’s a bit more quick witted than I am. I sent him the picture and said ‘look who we just met’ and he said ‘did you ask him about when Chanochi’s going get his vaccine?'”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in children aged 12-15 in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) but the vaccination programme is currently only open to some children in exceptional circumstances.

“We’re waiting for him to be offered it and very much hoping,” Mrs Pearl said.

“Chanochi’s obviously very vulnerable – and we were sheltering him very cautiously. He will turn 12 the end of August.”

Familial dysautonomia affects involuntary actions like digestion and breathing by affecting the development of certain nerve cells.

Chanochi, a pupil at the Kisharon Noe School in London, had been for Botox treatment into his salivary glands before his chance encounter with Mr Javid.