PM’s care home comments branded ‘clumsy and cowardly’

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Prime minister Boris Johnson’s claims that “too many” care homes did not properly follow procedures during the coronavirus pandemic have been branded “clumsy and cowardly” by a sector leader.

Mark Adams, chief executive of the charity Community Integrated Care, said on Tuesday he was “unbelievably disappointed” to hear the prime minister blaming care workers.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think this – at best – was clumsy and cowardly, but to be honest with you, if this is genuinely his view, I think we’re almost entering an … alternative reality where the government sets the rules, we follow them and they don’t like the results, and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best.

“It is hugely frustrating.”

The PM’s comments came after he was asked what he made of NHS chief executive Simon Stevens’ desire to see plans to fund the adult social care sector adequately within a year.

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Johnson said: “One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better and how we make sure we look after people better who are in social care.

“We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”

Adams said while most people were in lockdown, 1.6 million “brave” social care workers were putting their own health and lives at risk by going to work to protect people’s children, parents and grandparents.

He added: “And then to get the most senior man in the country turning round and blaming them on what has been an absolute travesty of leadership from the government, I just think it is appalling.”

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Home Forum, told the BBC the suggestion care home workers were not following procedures was “totally inappropriate” and “hugely insulting”.

She added: “Care homes across the country were dealing with an extraordinary amount of different guidance that was coming out from government on an almost daily basis.

“So for the suggestion that they were not following procedures as laid out is totally inappropriate and frankly hugely insulting.”

But business secretary Alok Sharma said that the prime minister had been pointing out that no-one had known what the correct procedures were.

He told BBC Breakfast: “What the prime minister was pointing out is nobody knew what the correct procedures were, because we know that the extent of the asymptomatic cases was not known at the time.”

“We have done our best to put our arms around the care home sector,” he added.

It comes as chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to unveil a £3bn green package with grants for homeowners and public buildings to improve energy efficiency as part of his coronavirus economic strategy.

Sunak will set out a raft of measures in his Commons statement on Wednesday, including £2bn for households to insulate their homes and make them more energy efficient, according to the Sun.

The funding aims to help the UK “build back greener” and meet its legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, but campaigners say it “doesn’t measure up to the economic and environmental crises”.

Sunak is meanwhile being urged to inject more than £200bn into the economy to “secure” Britain’s economic recovery from the virus, as the International Monetary Fund warns the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) could drop by 10.2%.

UK economic growth (GDP). (Infographic PA Graphics)

The Resolution Foundation thinktank has called on the chancellor to loosen the purse strings and announce a fiscal package worth 10% of GDP.

It comes as a number of pubs which reopened their doors for the first time on Saturday announced they have had to close again due to people testing positive for coronavirus.

Bars in England welcomed drinkers at the weekend after a lengthy lockdown which saw the hospitality sector shut since March, but three establishments have since alerted their patrons that they have had to close again just days later due to cases of Covid-19.

The closures will cause concern in the sector, which has been acutely affected by the crisis.

On Monday, Johnson urged people not to “stuff this up” after drinkers flocked to popular areas, including London’s Soho, over the weekend, prompting fears over a lack of social distancing.

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