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Government abandoned care homes during pandemic, People's Covid Inquiry hears

A DOCTOR at the fourth session of the People’s Covid Inquiry condemned the government’s “complete dereliction of duty” during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The inquiry, organised by Keep Our NHS Public, on Wednesday evening examined why the impact on disabled people and those in social care was so significant.

Palliative care medicine consultant Rachel Clarke said: “Care homes had a completely different supply chain and hospices were categorised as care homes. We were only issued with a two-day supply of masks … there was a really widespread, really invisible problem of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) in non-hospital areas.

“We kept calling the allegedly 24/7 hotline and there was no response, and eventually we were told they couldn’t supply us with any more masks, even when [they were] told the hospice would have to close to inpatients.

“The hotline was a nonsense, it didn’t help at all. The only way we were able to stay open was by contacting a charity looking to source PPE.

“We were begging everyone for masks as we couldn’t get them from the government, it was a complete dereliction of duty.”

Ellen Clifford of Disabled People Against Cuts explained how the government’s policy towards disabled people was mainly reactionary and that it was only through the concerted campaigning by disabled people themselves that action was taken to support their needs.

Commenting on claims that the government had “thrown a protective ring around care homes,” Professor Martin McKee of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent Sage) said:

“It wasn’t true at all, care homes were institutional amplifiers. There was not an understanding at the time that many people worked across [different] care homes, it was fairly obvious that this would be a problem, but it wasn’t recognised as such,” he said.

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