‘A real kick in the teeth’ – Suffolk carers’ chief on Boris Johnson’s comments
PUBLISHED: 12:44 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 July 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being accused of “kicking carers in the teeth” after claiming too many care homes didn’t follow procedures to guard against the spread of coronavirus in the way they could have done.
David Finch, chair of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers (SAICP), hit out at comments made by Mr Johnson while he was responding to questions on Monday July 6 over whether care homes would be adequately funded within the year.
Replying to the question Mr Johnson said it is “most important” to properly fund care homes, but added: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”
Mr Johnson’s comments have caused uproar among carers nationwide, with Mr Finch calling for him to retract them and apologise.
A Downing Street spokesman later declined the opportunity to apologise, adding Mr Johnson believes care homes to have done a “brilliant job under very difficult circumstances” when “nobody” new what the correct procedures were.
In Suffolk, 176 people have died in care homes after contracting the virus since May 29 and the county is continuing to see a higher number of deaths than other areas, with Norfolk’s figure standing at 137.
Mr Finch said: “It is a real kick in the teeth of carers. They are tired, they are mentally exhausted and they’ve been running since the beginning of March constantly working.
“It is such a kick to turn around and blame carers for deaths.”
Mr Finch said he had initially been pleased with praise from Mr Johnson’s government during the pandemic, but said the issue of PPE availability and “mismatched” guidance has continued to fuel criticism.
He said: “They say they threw a ring of protection around care homes at the beginning – which they didn’t.
“It was quite clear when looking at guidance for hospital staff against guidance for care home staff that it didn’t compare. Masks did not come in until very much later on, while for hospital staff they were there from the beginning.
“If we were to have a second wave, I’d hope the government would have a better plan in place.”
While the pandemic is continuing to cause deaths across the nation, Mr Finch added he also fears for the mental health of carers who have continued to be the sole person supporting patients through their final hours.
He said: “It has been so difficult for carers – normally at the end of someone’s life their families are with them, but in our situation that wasn’t happening. It was carers who had to be with them in their final hours. And they’ve had to do that multiple times.
“I really do worry about their mental health and wellbeing. Mr Johnson’s comments were not helpful at all.
“Our carers are what have kept us going – I can’t imagine what the situation would be like if they had turned around at any point and said they were giving up.”
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