Boris Johnson branded 'a joke' for 'clumsy' care home comments

Video report by Political Correspondent Paul Brand

A care home manager has branded Boris Johnson a "joke" after the prime minister suggested “too many” care homes did not properly follow procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier on Tuesday, Downing Street declined to apologise for the PM's comments.

Debbie Adams, who manages a care home in Luton, said she is "absolutely livid" and accused the government of not knowing what the correct procedure to follow was.

"We didn’t follow the procedure? Really? They didn’t even know what the procedure was," she told ITV News.

"When I got my first resident and they told me 10 days after Public Health [England) didn’t even know what the procedure was, so I don’t even know how he can say that.

"I am fuming. Absolutely livid at the fact that he’s saying we didn’t follow procedure."

'A joke': Watch care home manager Debbie Adams' reaction to Boris Johnson's comments

She added: "Everything that we’ve been through, he doesn’t even know half of it.

"He doesn’t know. All the PPE that we had to scrounge, we were last in the chain and we didn’t follow procedure?

"They didn’t know what procedure was is the answer to that. I am fuming. And I can speak to all home managers around the country. That is a joke by Boris Johnson, he is a joke."

Watch Boris Johnson's remarks on care home procedures

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that Boris Johnson was "shameful" in "trying to blame others".

The Prime Minister’s comments were also branded a “real slap in the face” for care workers by the Independent Care Group, while another sector leader said they were “clumsy and cowardly”.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman was asked during a Westminster briefing what the PM had meant by the remarks.

He 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.”

Asked if Mr Johnson would like to apologise or retract the comments, the spokesman said: “As I’ve just set out, the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.”

Earlier, Business Secretary Alok Sharma refused to say whether his boss would apologise for remarks that "too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures" during the coronavirus outbreak. The prime minister's comments on Monday sparked fury among the care sector, demanding that Mr Johnson apologise. During an interview with ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand on Tuesday, Mr Sharma defended the prime minister, saying that he "cared very deeply" about care homes and the NHS.

Asked what procedures the prime minister believed care homes didn't adhere to, Mr Sharma said: "You speak about procedures, I think the point the prime minister was making is that nobody knew what the correct procedures were when this started because we didn't know the extent of asympomatic transmission. That wasn't known at the time." When pressed if there would be an apology for the remark, Mr Sharma said: "You will know yourself... about care homes from the various press conferences we've had. And I think no-one can be in any doubt about how much the prime minister cares about the NHS and the care sector."

He added: "It's very clear what the prime minister was saying. We've learnt an awful lot over the last few months about this virus."

Yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “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. “Most important is to fund them properly… but we will also be looking at ways to make sure the care sector long term is properly organised and supported.”

Several care home providers have rejected the prime minister's comments. Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum, which represents 120 of the UK’s social care charities, welcomed the PM’s recognition of the need for proper funding. She added: “However, Mr Johnson’s comments in relation to care homes’ following of procedures are neither accurate nor welcome. “Government guidance has come to the sector in stops and starts – with organisations grappling with over 100 pieces of additional guidance in the same number of days, much of which was not accompanied by an understanding of the operational implications of operating care services. “Care providers have moved to adopt these new procedures consistently, at pace and with integrity.” The Independent Care Group said the vast majority of providers had “done their absolute best in the face of slow and conflicting advice”. ICG chairman Mike Padgham said: “We should not be getting into the blame game and it is wrong to criticise care and nursing homes at this time. “It is worth remembering that in February the Government agency Public Health England told homes it was ‘very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected’ and that homes didn’t need to do anything differently."