Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for coronavirus care home comments but praises them for ‘brilliant job in very difficult circumstances’
Boris Johnson is not apologising for his comments about care homes (PA)
Boris Johnson is refusing to apologise for claims that care homes “didn't really follow the procedures" during the coronavirus crisis despite condemnation from the industry.
Instead the Prime Minister’s official spokesman sought to clarify his comments, saying he believes they have done a “brilliant job under very difficult circumstances”.
But asked to retract or say sorry for his words during a visit to Yorkshire on Monday, the spokesman repeated the same line multiple lines and would not discuss an apology.
Mr Johnson had caused outrage among care providers for saying: “One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better and how we make sure we look after people better who are in social care.
“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.”
The National Care Association has asked the PM to retract the statement, which the Independent Care Group called a “slap in the face for those workers after they have given and sacrificed so much”.
Its chairman Mike Padgham said: "We hope he will reflect on those comments and see the incredible work the care sector has done in the recent months to care for older and vulnerable people, with late and conflicting advice and poor support in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing during this awful pandemic.”
Speaking about his words, the PM’s spokesman said: “Throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.
"The Prime Minister was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were, because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.
“We have put in place a comprehensive action plan to protect care homes, including rigorous testing, and additional funding.”
He added: “We know that care providers cross the country have been doing their utmost to keep those they look after safe in the most challenging circumstances.
“And it remains the case that almost 60% of care homes have not had an outbreak at all.”
But when urged to apologise or amend the phrasing the spokesman repeated the line that “throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances” several times.
Mark Adams, boss of charity Community Integrated Care, told the BBC's Today programme there had been a "travesty of leadership" during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And he accused the Government of trying to "rewrite history".
He added: "We're almost entering a Kafkaesque alternative reality where the government sets the rules, we follow them, they don't like the results, they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best."