Care homes were 'abandoned' says Leeds manager as damning report condemns Government's handling of Covid-19 pandemic
A care home chief in Leeds said social care was “abandoned” by the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic as a landmark inquiry described the UK’s response to the crisis as one of the worst public health failures in history.
Jodie Boucher, chairwoman of Leeds’ registered managers network for care homes and domiciliary care, told the Yorkshire Evening Post those working on the front line in social care felt like “the forgotten ones” during the Government's early handling of the pandemic.
The decision to release patients from hospitals into care home settings without testing for Covid-19 was one of a series of serious errors and delays placed at the hands of the Government and scientific advisors in a cross-party report into the UK’s response.
The damning study, by the health and science committees of the House of Commons, also highlighted the UK’s preparation as being far too focused on flu, ministers waiting too long to push through lockdown measures in early 2020, “light-touch border controls” and lack of testing capacity in the initial stages among the string of failings which it said cost lives.
Jodie, who also runs Carr Croft Care Home in Meanwood, said: “Everything they did was always too late. The lockdown was too late.”
She said she knows of managers in Leeds who have left jobs due to pandemic.
“There have been managers in tears with the impact that it’s had on them and their teams.
“Losing a resident to Covid is just heart-breaking for them.
“People just felt powerless to what was going on. And they didn't know where to go, who to go to, who could offer support. They just felt abandoned.
“We were just all the forgotten ones. And it’s just been like that all the way through.”
But she stressed: “I think managers have done an amazing job to keep the homes going. I’m proud of all the managers and carers for how they have overcome things.”
Leeds East Labour MP Richard Burgon said Government failures allowed Covid-19 to “rip through our care homes like wildfire”.
He joined calls to bring forward an independent public inquiry - which Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this year is due to start in spring 2022.
He said: “The Government response has meant that tens of thousands of people unnecessarily lost their lives.
“That’s why I’m arguing the public inquiry needs to start now.
“We can’t have any more delays. We can’t have any more attempts at stopping the truth from coming out.
“Truth and accountability are very important and those responsible should face the full force of the law.”
Leeds North East Labour MP Fabian Hamilton said: “We owe it to every single person we have lost to this virus, and their loved ones, to learn the lessons from the Government’s mistakes.
“We must have a full public inquiry now to ensure that the same mistakes are never made again.”
He added: “Our vulnerable and elderly were an afterthought to this Government. That is not only a disgraceful way to act, but a pathetic and weak way to govern."
In Leeds, latest figures show, as of September 24, a total of 1,842 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 since the pandemic began.
Nearly 13,000 people in the city were also estimated to be suffering last month with long Covid-19, where symptoms continue months after the initial infection.
Valentina Viduto, chairwoman of the Leeds-based charity the Long Covid-19 Foundation said the report highlights the “scale of professional failure” of the Governments and scientific advisers who she said lacked transparency and showed “fantastic ignorance of common sense and expert opinion from wider medical and scientific societies”.
A Government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by scientific and medical experts and we neer shied away from taking quick and decisive action to save lives and protect our NHS, including introducing restrictions and lockdowns.
“Thanks to a collective national effort, we avoided NHS services becoming overwhelmed and our phenomenal vaccination programme has built a wall of defence, with over 24.3m infections prevented and more than 130,000 lives saved so far.
“As the Prime Minister has said, we are committed to learning lessons from the pandemic and have committed to holding a full public inquiry in the spring.”
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