GMB union supports the care sector
8 July 2020

We need to look after our social care package. We need to look after people better who are in social care. One of the most important things is to fund them properly.

“We need to look after our social care package. We need to look after people better who are in social care. One of the most important things is to fund them properly. We will look to ways that the care sector is in the long term properly organised and supported.” Now I would normally on face value welcome those remarks. Wouldn’t disagree with the sentiment or ideas being promoted and not many people should. However they do come from the mutterings of the Prime Minister and as usual he couldn’t leave that statement standing alone, providing some hope for a better future for those vulnerable people in our communities. No he had to emulate his pal in the White House and apportion blame to someone else.

In classic Trump style - by stating that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have...” he opened up a huge can of worms as well as a massive barrage of criticism from a wide range of people. This includes very senior people in the care home industry, Labour MPs, trade unionists, families of those care home workers who have died in the line of duty. Oh wait there. Surely he can’t be trying to head off at the pass any attempts at legal action against his government?

Most people believe we need, indeed demand an inquiry into the way this country has handled the Coronavirus pandemic and the diverting blame game may have already begun.

The difficulty for the Tories is that while their keyboard warriors online may bang on about private care homes charging the earth for residents and easily able to buy their own PPE, they cannot the deny the major other aspects of this story. It is not the truth to say safe procedures were in place. Risk assessments were not being enforced, otherwise why would 25,000 elderly, at risk people be released from hospitals straight into care homes without being tested first. Why didn’t the government carry out their legal duty of care and make their own risk assessments and put strict procedures in place to stop agency workers moving from home to home exacerbating the spread. Why wasn’t there sufficient, relevant PPE in place, even if it had to be bought by the private homes? The government ministers keep repeating over and over that no-one could foresee what this pandemic would do. Yet we now know that the Cygnet Report warned back in 2017 that the country needed to prepare properly for such an outbreak and nothing was put in place. We never even had sufficient quantities of quality PPE in stock for the NHS or care services. Well who is to blame there Messrs Johnson and Hancock?

The loss of life in care homes has been catastrophic, horrendous when we think of around 20,000 Covid19 related deaths in England and Wales. Many people have been affected directly and indirectly by this issue. We see on the evening news care home workers who have not been with their families for months in some cases as they do their bit to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Cameras going into the care homes and capturing the pictures of grateful residents and their families being cared for at this extremely dangerous time by staff putting their own lives at risk. It is little wonder the Prime Minister has faced scathing criticism since his statement in Yorkshire this week. No wonder he has been referred to as “clumsy and cowardly” in trying to pass the blame. We will need to wait and see why he did it, maybe having to be patient for when he and his government of incompetents are called to account as they surely must.

Neil Smith

Political Officer

GMB North West & Irish Region 

GMB North West & Irish Region