Leader of Lincolnshire’s care sector blasts Prime Minister’s ‘careless words’

The body representing care homes and organisations in the county has hit out at the Prime Minister’s “unacceptable” remarks about the way the sector has handled coronavirus over the last few months.

Melanie Weatherley, chairman of the Lincolnshire Care Association. EMN-200707-192807001

Boris Johnson said in interview on Monday that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures”.

But his words have angered those working in the care home sector, with Melanie Weatherley chairman of the Lincolnshire Care Association, has responded, saying: “Last week you were clapping for the care sector, don’t make us the target for your mistakes.”

In a statement issued today (Tuesday) she has vented her anger at the comments levelled by the Prime Minister as well as NHS England Boss Simon Stevens, in which they appear to blame the social care sector for the high death rate in care homes.

Mrs Weatherley highlights how Lincolnshire care homes have gone above and beyond to protect their residents during the Covid-19 crisis - particularly their implementation of safety measures and lockdowns ahead of government guidelines being announced – as well as demonstrating how care home staff are crucial to keeping vulnerable people safe and happy during the pandemic.

She adds: “The battle against Covid-19 isn’t over yet, but we’re still here fighting the good fight for the vulnerable people that need us.”

Mr Stevens had commented over the weekend regarding the “resilience” of the social care system.

Mrs Weatherley said: “These comments, although not unexpected, suggests the blame lies with care homes, when the sector is filled with hardworking, resourceful individuals who dedicate their lives to caring for others.

“The situation has been challenging, but care homes were not just sitting on their hands while the government was deciding its next steps. Like every sector, we have had to learn about this evolving situation as we go along, but providers used their expertise and anticipated what needed to be done long before the government guidelines were released.

“In fact, care organisations were a crucial influence on the policies that have saved lives, from PPE to choosing to suspend visits.”

She said that Lincolnshire care homes in particular were forward-thinking when it came to preventing the spread of COVID-19, choosing to go into lockdown before it became mandatory. “Many were told they were overreacting, but the situation could have been much more serious if that decision hadn’t been made,” she said.

She urged families not to let “these careless words” put them off choosing a care home. “They provide security, companionship and so much more, and for vulnerable people in need of support there is no safer place to be.”

Ministers including Health Secretary Matt Hancock have spent the day trying to clarify Mr Johnson’s words. Mr Hancock said care homes had done “amazing work” but little had been known about the degree of asymptomatic transmission and so correct procedures were not followed.

He admitted government guidance had been changing and improving as it learned.