PM BORIS Johnson was condemned yesterday after trying to pin the 20,000 plus coronavirus deaths in care homes on care home staff saying: ‘Too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures’ during the coronavirus outbreak.
Mark Adams, CEO of charity Community Integrated Care, told the BBC the PM’s comments were ‘cowardly’. He continued: ‘I think at best this was clumsy and cowardly. But to be honest with you, if this is genuinely his view, I think we’re almost entering a Kafkaesque alternative reality where the government sets the rules, we follow them, they don’t like the results, they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best.’
Adams added there had been a ‘travesty of leadership’ from the prime minister on care homes.
The National Care Forum called Johnson’s remarks ‘frankly hugely insulting’ to care workers. Vic Rayner, executive director of the forum, told BBC Newsnight that care homes followed the guidance ‘to the letter’ but the government’s attention was focused on hospitals.
Care homes have been at the centre of the coronavirus crisis in the UK. Almost 30,000 more care home residents in England and Wales died during the outbreak than during the same period in 2019 – with two-thirds of those deaths attributed to the virus.
The government maintains it threw a ‘protective ring’ around care homes. In fact there were huge failures in providing personal protective equipment (PPE), and with the NHS on the point of collapse thousands of elderly hospital patients were discharged into care homes without being tested.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, commented: ‘GMB warned the government from the start they were failing to protect care home residents and workers during this pandemic. Ministers focused all their efforts on the NHS – leaving some of the most vulnerable people and workers in our society exposed. They had no plan for social care.
‘Elderly patients were discharged from hospital and admitted into care homes without being tested for coronavirus in order to clear beds so that the NHS was not overwhelmed … Ministers’ negligent approach to care during this crisis has meant thousands more died than should have done.’
The plain fact is that PM Johnson and his cabinet should face manslaughter charges for causing the care home carnage with their transfer of the sick and untested elderly out of hospitals into the care homes.
In fact, the May-led Tory government was warned about the danger of a pandemic, but ignored the warnings.
It conducted Exercise Cygnus in October 2016 as a simulation exercise to test the NHS’ preparedness for coping with a flu pandemic. The massive lack of preparation that Cygnus revealed has been reported in the national press as ‘too terrifying’ to be made public. Publication of Cygnus has been banned.
Doctor Moosa Qureshi, who is taking legal action to force the publication of the Cygnus findings, said: ‘I believe that if the government had followed the Cygnus Exercise by engaging transparently with health and social care partners, with industry and with the public, then many of the deaths of my heroic healthcare colleagues and the wider public during the Covid-19 pandemic could have been avoided.’
Leigh Day solicitor Tessa Gregory commented: ‘It beggars belief that the information the exercise revealed is now being kept hidden when a public debate about its contents may well inform important decisions about how to best protect lives going forward.’
The exercise showed that a flu-like pandemic could cause the NHS to collapse. The May and Johnson governments knew the findings of Exercise Cygnus, and did nothing.
This is the crisis that led to the lives of at least 20,000 care home residents being sacrificed after patients with the virus were transferred from hospitals into care homes.
There is only one way to defend the NHS and that is for the trade unions to bring down the Johnson government and bring in a workers government that will properly finance the NHS and nationalise the care home sector to make it fit to care for the elderly.