A PROMINENT Bradford GP has waded into the national discussion on Covid-19 in care homes as concerns mount over the Government’s response. 

Dr Amir Khan, who works at the Ridge Medical Practice, spoke out after Michael Gove’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday. 

Mr Gove was grilled over the situation in care homes, with Andrew Marr putting it to him that “you put people who were infected with Covid-19 out of hospitals and into care homes and you knew that was happening”. 

He added: “There was Government guidance to care homes until April 15th and it read ‘some of these patients admitted to a care home may have Covid-19. Negative tests are not required prior to admission in care homes’. That was a terrible mistake.”

Mr Gove said testing had been ramped up, that guidance altered over time as scientific understanding changed and added: “The decision as to whether or not a patient is in a hospital or another setting, a care home or home, is a clinical decision and it is often the case that for a patient it will be far better for them, they will receive better care, if they are in a care home than in a hospital.

"A clinical decision is made both about the patient and about the infection risk because in hospitals there is also a risk of infection as well, and hospital beds are there for people who require a particular type of intervention because they have an acute problem, so it is a difficult judgement to make, but it is one where the clinician is in the lead.”

Amid growing criticism that the Government had failed to provide adequate support to the care sector, he acknowledged the situation remained a “challenge” and “there will be lessons to be learned”.

In a tweet, Dr Khan said: I don’t often tweet politics but watching @michaelgove on #Marr I have to say this: The care homes I look after DID have Covid positive residents discharged from hospitals. The staff DID NOT have adequate PPE (personal protective equipment). Other residents caught Covid and DIED in HIGHER NUMBERS as a result.”

He did not give any further details as to which care homes he was referring to.

Meanwhile, the Bradford Care Association (BCA) has spoken of the challenges its members have faced. 

This has included issues with PPE, particularly with inflated prices and unscrupulous people trying to sell substandard products.

Chairman Konrad Czajka said care providers do not have the cash flow to purchase such large quantities of PPE and that it should have been “cascaded across the whole system”.

 “We need to know when and where the next tranche of PPE will come from,” he said and added that testing had also been a “big challenge” though the system is now starting to work well. 

Mr Czajka added: “The national picture that is emerging, is that although the Government gave Local Authorities a total of £3.2bn additional funding, and a further £600m specifically targeted at helping social care to fight Covid-19, very little has filtered through to the care sector, which has become the front line of this fight.

"The money that has been passed onto care providers by the Local Authorities barely covers a fraction of the cost of the additional PPE and extra staffing costs, and whilst there is a perception that care homes are a cash rich businesses, the last 10 years of underfunding had already pushed this sector to the edge.

"Outsiders often presume that care homes charge high fees so must be very profitable, but the costs of providing quality care have greatly escalated due to Covid-19. 

“Local Authorities and the NHS have asked lots of care homes to look after people infected with Covid-19, so many care homes are now seeing falling revenues due to Covid-19, non Covid-19 deaths and people being afraid to enter a care home setting because of the perceived risks.”

He said that Government should have ring fenced funding and given it directly to care homes. 

The Department of Health and Social Care said the Government is working “around the clock” to make sure the frontline social care workforce is getting the support and resources needed - including infection and control training and supplies of PPE.

The spokesperson said two thirds of England’s care homes have had no outbreaks at all, adding: “We are working closely with local authorities to ensure funding is distributed fairly and reaches the frontline where it is needed most. We will keep future funding need under review.”

A spokesperson for Bradford Council: "Clearly not enough has been done on PPE as nationally this has been a huge issue. 

"In Bradford we have not relied solely on the Government providing PPE, instead we have gone out and sourced supplies ourselves.  As a result we are able to provide direct support to care homes with the coordination and direct sourcing and purchasing of PPE both in this country and abroad. 

"We compile a daily report from all care homes in the district about their PPE supply.  If any provider is struggling we have provided help and not allowed anyone to run out.

"We have already made one significant payment to sector which is now under review for second period of lockdown. 

"We have provided an uplift of 10 per cent payment for every resident funded by the local authority in each care home for an initial seven week period. On top of that we fund two people from the Bradford Care Association to support work on delivering quality care and which enables the sector to be fully involved in the decision-making structure of the local health sector and influence discussions.

"We have agreed payment in principle for additional monies announced last week by Government and are discussing with the sector a fair and equitable way of allocating payment for voids, given that they cannot recruit new residents at the moment.

"We have worked in partnership with the NHS to new, free training and support in relation to infection control, recognising that the care home sector are already very experienced and skilled in this area, but that the current situation is more challenging than other usual infectious diseases.  We have directly supported a rapid recruitment process for the sector to help them access additional trained care staff at a subsidised cost."

The spokeserson added: "We’ve supported the roll out telemedicine and support from the community and primary care to care homes, through working closely with the sector and NHS partners.

"From this week  every care home has dedicated relationship manager within the council who checks on their needs at least once a week, this is in addition to the on-going support from council officers who ring providers in response to care homes updating their risk status on the NHS capacity tracker.

"We have provided short stay local authority placements for their residents on discharge from hospital available for a further period of isolation to protect long term care homes in the private sector. The CCG have provided additional support for the testing of all care home staff."