Coronavirus: Labour’s deputy leader calls for investigation into government handling of care homes
PUBLISHED: 13:13 17 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:59 17 May 2020
Labour’s deputy leader said the government has let care homes down “incredibly badly” and has called for an investigation into how it was all handled.
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Angela Rayner, who used to work in a care home before becoming an MP, discussed during The Andrew Marr Show the thousands of unexplained care home deaths that happened last month:
“If you look at what the 26,000 deaths that were in April from the ONS figures, 18,000 of them are additional deaths from last year’s figures. The only ones that are related to coronavirus are 8,000, so there’s 10,000 unaccounted for deaths within the care sector.”
Rayner called for an investigation into the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis in care homes, saying people have been “tragically let down”: “Every single death is tragic and we had medical experts who said we seeded the virus into our care homes and the guidance wasn’t there for care workers.
“We allowed people to be discharged, the government were pushing to get people out of hospitals as quickly as possible without the testing.”
Rayner also said care home workers are not being given the support they need, with many of her previous colleagues not being paid appropriately and being forced into difficult situations when contracting the virus: “Many of ex colleagues are not being paid the real living wage and they are not even able to get the statutory sick pay to do the right thing when they need to self-isolate”.
Rayner said the current minister for education, Gavin Williamson, must publish the science showing why the government is making the decisions they are making.
She added that a tracking and tracing strategy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was promised yesterday for June 1, but she has not seen any evidence that the government can actually deliver.
The senior Labour MP highlighted testing, tracking and tracing are ‘essential’ measures that need to be put in place before introducing more children and teachers into classrooms - and that this strategy should also have wider applications.
“I believe we were too slow in taking lockdown decisions and we’ve been too quick without the provisions in place to ease the lockdown,” Rayner said.
Minister Michael Gove admitted there are “big lessons” to be learned from the treatment of care homes during the coronavirus outbreak.
Gove said thegovernment had taken “significant steps” to improve the situation of those in care homes.
However, amid growing criticism that they had failed to provide adequate support to the sector, he acknowledged the situation remained a “challenge”.
“There are big lessons to be learned,” he told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“We are still living through this pandemic and there will be lessons to be learned. We have taken significant steps to improve the care of people in care homes.
“There will be a point in the future when all of us can look back and reflect and make sure we have learned the appropriate lessons.
“At the moment, we are focused on making sure we beat the virus and protect people as effectively as possible.”
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