Unions respond to 20,000 care home deaths

Unions have responded to yesterday’s figures from the Office for National Statistics showing nearly 20,000 care home residents have died from coronavirus.

UNISON senior national officer Gavin Edwards said: “This appalling death toll is yet more evidence care was left high and dry when the pandemic hit.

“Many elderly residents were at the mercy of the virus and low-paid care staff were poorly protected. The best run homes pay employees full wages to workers off sick. In others, ill staff are effectively forced into turning up for work because they can’t survive with no money coming in. If ever there was a time for urgent and comprehensive reform of the care sector, it’s now.”

GMB National Officer Rachel Harrison said: “GMB warned the government from the start they were failing to protect care home residents and workers during this pandemic. Ministers focussed all their efforts on the NHS – leaving some of the most vulnerable people and workers in our society exposed. They had no plan for social care.

“Elderly patients were discharged from hospital and admitted into care homes without being tested for coronavirus in order to clear beds so that the NHS was not overwhelmed. The government has failed our social care members when it came to pay, when it came to PPE and when it came to testing. GMB had to lobby to government for carers to get even the most basic personal protective equipment.

“They must take responsibility for their handling of Covid-19 and immediately address the issues of low wages and no sick pay for this predominantly low paid work female workforce. Ministers’ negligent approach to care during this crisis has meant thousands more died than should have done.”

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