The chief medical officer for England has appeared to distance himself from comments made by the prime minister that some care homes failed to follow procedures during the pandemic.
Speaking in front of a group of MPs yesterday (21 July), Professor Chris Whitty was pressed on the comments made by Boris Johnson, which sparked an outcry amongst those in the social care sector when first made.
‘First of all, my enthusiasm for blaming people for anything is zero,’ Professor Whitty told the members of the health and social care select committee.
‘That is absolutely not the way that you deal with any kind of situation in health care or social care and absolutely should not – that’s across the board. That would be my starting point.’
Professor Whitty added that it is ‘clear’ that every country which has a care sector ‘has not handled this well’ and ‘this is across the board’.
He said there were several issues, which are now obvious, but were not at the beginning of the pandemic, including staff working in multiple homes and workers not being paid sick leave, which all contributed to the problem.
‘These were major risks in health and social care settings,’ said Professor Whitty. ‘So, I think there are a lot of things that we have learnt that we can now do a lot better in social care.
‘I don’t think any of us would look back on what has happened in social care and say the ideal advice was given and this was the fault of anyone. I personally would shy away from that,’ he added.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this month show more than half of care homes in England have reported at least one case of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
The figures, which were part of the Vivaldi study, also show one in five care home residents and 7% of staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
The executive director the National Care Forum, Vic Rayner, described Mr Johnson’s comments earlier this month as ‘neither accurate, nor welcome’.
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