BGS statement responding to Prime Minister’s comments on care homes

08 July 2020

The BGS strongly condemns comments from the Prime Minister on 6 July stating that ‘too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems bizarre for the Prime Minister to suggest that care homes did not follow procedures when, at least in the early weeks, there were no agreed procedures available for them to follow. 

The impact of this pandemic on care homes cannot be overstated – official figures show 30% of deaths in care homes during the pandemic are directly attributable to COVID-19.  Sadly, nearly 20,000 care home residents have died from COVID-19. Care home staff were put at risk on a daily basis and, unfortunately, some contracted the virus and died.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a complete lack of government guidance about how to manage the infection in care homes. When guidance was published in early April, it was insufficient. There was no requirement for patients being transferred to care homes to have a negative COVID-19 test or to be isolated for a period of time. In addition, there was very little testing available to care homes at this stage. 

Care homes cannot exist in isolation – they must be part of an integrated and sustainable health and social care system. This Government and, in particular, the Prime Minister, have repeatedly made promises about the future of social care but we have not yet seen any action. 

Professor Tahir Masud, President of the British Geriatrics Society, said:

Colleagues in care homes have been under unbelievable pressure during this pandemic and for the Prime Minister to offer anything but his unconditional support and thanks is immensely disappointing. Care homes were left unsupported in the early days of what has been the biggest challenge to health and social care services ever. 

The Prime Minister has long promised to reform the social care system. We call on him now to act. Care home residents and the staff who work tirelessly to support them deserve proper respect and adequate support now and for the long term."