Keir Starmer denounced as “shameful” Boris Johnson’s apparent attempt to blame nursing home operators for the deaths of residents and staff of the coronavirus.
Labor leader apologized to Prime Minister a day after Johnson suggested 20,000 deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic may be due in part to the fact that many did not ” followed procedures ”to protect residents and staff.
In the midst of a furious outcry from house operators and unions, Downing Street made it clear that the Prime Minister did not say sorry for his words.
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When asked eight times during a press briefing to say whether the Prime Minister regretted his comment and that he would now withdraw it or apologize, his official spokesman refused to do so, repeating to instead the same statement released by Downing Street last night in an effort to calm the fury.
In a tweet this afternoon, Sir Keir said: “At least 20,000 people have died from Covid-19 in nursing homes. Residents passed without tests. Staff found themselves without PPE [personal protective equipment]. And all this after a decade of cuts in social services.
“Ashamed of Boris Johnson for trying to blame others for the failures of his government. “
Johnson was asked on Monday during a visit to Yorkshire to explain how he explained the high numbers of deaths in nursing homes. He said, “We discovered that too many nursing homes were not really following procedures as they could have.”
The answer was denounced as “cowardly” and “a travesty of leadership” by Mark Adams, who heads the Community Integrated Care charity.
Mr. Adams told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “If this is really his point of view, I think that we are almost entering an alternative Kafkaesque reality where the government sets the rules, we follow them, they do not like the results, they then deny setting the rules and blame people who were trying to do their best. ”
The National Care Forum said that Mr. Johnson’s remarks were “totally inappropriate” and “extremely insulting” to social workers.
Forum Executive Director Vic Rayner said nursing homes had followed the instructions “to the letter” but the government’s focus was on hospitals.
“Government orientation has arrived in the sector on several occasions – with organizations struggling with more than 100 additional guidance elements in the same number of days, much of which was not accompanied by an understanding of the implications operational care services, “she said. said.
And Joyce Pinfield of the National Care Association said, “We are absolutely dismayed and think it’s a slap in the face for the care sector and our wonderful care staff.”
Journalists today asked him if the Prime Minister would apologize or withdraw his statement, if he was trying to suggest that the operators and staff of the nursing homes had “done something wrong” and if was simply trying to pass the buck for government failures to front-line staff, Johnson’s spokesperson said repeatedly, “Throughout the pandemic, nursing homes have done brilliant work in very difficult circumstances.
“The Prime Minister stressed that no one knew what the right procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.
“We have put in place a comprehensive action plan to protect nursing homes, including rigorous testing and additional funding for PPE.”
According to official estimates, more than half of nursing homes in England have been affected by Covid-19, with one in five residents infected and 7% of the staff.
Anger grew as a result of the decision to return 25,000 untested hospital patients, fueled by the famous assertion by Health Secretary Matt Hancock of having “thrown a protective ring” around them.
The fate of so many nursing home residents has also been blamed for the failure to provide enough PPE, with supplies requisitioned for the NHS.
It wasn’t until April 15 – almost a month after the lockout started – that Mr. Hancock finally promised to test all patients before admission.
But when interviewed in Goole, east Yorkshire, the Prime Minister pointed out the bad practices instead, saying, “One of the things the crisis has shown is that we need to think about how we better organize our set of social care and how we make sure we take care of it. better people who are in social care.
“We have discovered that too many nursing homes are not really following procedures as they could have been, but we are learning lessons all the time.
“The most important thing is to fund them properly … but we will also look for ways to ensure that the long-term care sector is properly organized and supported.”
The secretary general of the Unison public service union, Dave Prentis, said that it was “despicable for Boris Johnson to blame incredible caregivers and devotees for the failures of his own government”.
Prentis said, “Caregivers continued to work to help vulnerable people, putting their own health at risk with little or no protective kit and no testing. Many were not entitled to full sickness benefits and therefore could not afford to stop at home. Others don’t get paid if they fall ill, causing real financial headaches for doing the right thing. The
“All of this was the result of bad decisions made by his government. The Prime Minister should be ashamed, assume his responsibilities and commit to an appropriate and sustainable reform of social care. ”
Mike Padgham, head of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said, “We shouldn’t be getting into the blame game and it is wrong to criticize nursing and nursing homes right now. ”
The vast majority of claimants “did their best in the face of slow and contradictory advice,” he said, adding, “Claimants operated in ignorance of what to do and with one arm behind the back in terms of the support they received. Under these circumstances, they worked miracles. “