'That is not going to happen here': Care home bosses hit back at PM as visits restart in England

Some care home visits were already permitted but the government says new guidance will allow more to take place safely. Credit: PA

Letting care home residents reunite with family is too dangerous, some care bosses have told ITV News, despite the government giving it the green light in England.

The response comes after some care home residents in England were told they would be allowed to see their loved ones in the flesh for the first time in months after the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to in-person visits.

ITV News has spoken to managers at a number of care homes, who believe the measure is premature.

Mr Johnson has previously felt the ire of those in the care sector after laying the blame for the spread of coronavirus at their door.

One care home boss told ITV News: “Well that is not going to happen here!

"If that man [Boris Johnson] thinks he is going to blame us, then put us back at risk!

"Mate don't even get me started!”

Visits will resume in specific care homes once local directors of public health and local authorities decide it is safe to do so, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Risk assessments will be made before a reopening is allowed, with officials only opening facilities where social distancing can be observed and visitors will be asked to wear face coverings.

ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand discusses the family reunions and why some care homes have decided against them

Local Directors of Public Health will be expected to take a "measured, risk-assessed approach", considering the situation in "specific care homes as well as the community context, including any local outbreaks".

Many within the sector are worried permitting outsiders into care homes could result in infections of its residents.

"Government have been ignorant, blind and reckless in their guidance so quite frankly we are going to continue to do what we feel is best. If we followed too little too late guidance we would have lost far more residents," Wellburn Care homes told ITV News.

Some care home visits were already permitted but the government says new guidance will allow more to take place safely.

If a care home is covid-secure, they will be allowed to arrange visits based on guidance aimed at limiting further outbreaks, and protecting staff and residents.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said visits could be allowed with the rate of community transmission of coronavirus having fallen.

“I know how painful it has been for those in care homes not being able to receive visits from their loved ones throughout this period," Mr Hancock said.

“We are now able to carefully and safely allow visits to care homes, which will be based on local knowledge and circumstances for each care home.

“It is really important that we don’t undo all of the hard work of care homes over the last few months while ensuring families and friends can be safely reunited, so we have put in place guidance that protects everyone.”

The DHSC said care home providers "should encourage all visitors to wear a face covering and to wash their hands thoroughly before and after putting it on and taking it off". 

It added: "Visitors should wear appropriate further PPE depending on the need of their visit, including gloves and aprons."

Care home residents should only be allowed one visitor at a time, the department said, and it encouraged visits to take place outdoors where possible.

It said homes should support NHS Test and Trace by keeping a temporary record, including address and phone number, of current and previous residents, staff and visitors as well as keeping track of visitor numbers and staff.

It is thought most care homes will still heavily restrict visits in order to avoid infection.

It is estimated that over 20,000 care home residents have died with coronavirus in the UK and the government has been criticised for not protecting the care sector from infection.

The government maintains it did everything it could to look after the vulnerable, but critics say it was slow to provide adequate testing and PPE to staff and residents.

Care homes in Scotland that are free from Covid have been able to accept visitors since July 3, while a similar rule has been in place in Wales since last month.

Northern Ireland authorities gave the green light for care home visits earlier this month.