Question Time: Doctor accuses government of ‘throwing care home residents under the bus’

PUBLISHED: 09:54 17 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:54 17 April 2020

Dr Rachel Clarke appears on BBC Question Time. Photograph: BBC.

Dr Rachel Clarke appears on BBC Question Time. Photograph: BBC.

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A specialist in palliative care has accused the government of throwing care home residents ‘under the bus’ over the coronavirus.

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The panel on a previous episode of BBC Question Time practice social distancing. Photograph: BBC.The panel on a previous episode of BBC Question Time practice social distancing. Photograph: BBC.

Care homes have been the subject of much debate over the last few days after managers revealed how little personal protective equipment they have for staff, and how little protection there is for vulnerable and elderly patients.

Dr Rachel Clarke told presenter Fiona Bruce that the government response has been “woefully inadequate”, claiming that Downing Street had condemned residents to death by stopping testing.

She said: “The government has responded absolutely woefully inadequately, I’m afraid.

“So the point at which the government decided to change its testing policies, so that every possible case was being tested to one in which only cases in hospitals were being tested, was the point at which residents of care homes and people who were receiving care in their own homes were thrown under a bus.

“They were being abandoned. And incidentally so were the absolutely extraordinary men and women, who are carers themselves.”

Clarke, who authored the book Dying with Dignity, also criticised the way the care workers were treated by government.

“We are meant to have parity in this country, we are meant to have a department that is the department of health and social care.

“And yet the social side of that department is the Cinderella service.


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“We have a 122,000 vacancies in the care sector, many of the carers are paid a minimum wage, they are treated without respect.

“Yesterday of course the health secretary Matt Hancock tried to address that by offering them a badge”, promoting the programme to discuss scepticism around the offering from the health secretary.

“Dr Rachel Clarke was superb on #BBCQT; quietly eviscerated the government over Covid-19 while Justice Secretary Robert Buckland squirmed in his seat,” said Lorna Cooper.

“Utter disgrace, Matt Hancock. Care homes have been abandoned & I’d argue the whole country has been misled, with concerns completely disregarded,” wrote Doc Joshi. “There is no exit from lockdown without testing. We already have close to 14k deaths & we’re only just at the peak of daily new deaths.”

“The fact that social care is only now being flagged up by the government in the Covid-19 response is concerning,” tweeted Louis Stuhler. “This is a sector that needed attention way before the crisis, yet (as with many other issues: 2016-19) it was never directly tackled.”

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