A BRADFORD district care home owner has branded Prime Minister Boris Johnson despicable for his criticism of the sector’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

David Crabtree, who owns Crabtree Care Homes, criticised Mr Johnson and the government during a debate on Good Morning Britain today. The Prime Minister said yesterday that “too many” care homes had not followed the correct procedures during the pandemic. Downing Street has since declined to apologise for Mr Johnson's previous comments.

Crabtree Care Homes have residential sites across the district including Bradford, Ilkley, Silsden and Keighley and have reported 13 residents who have died with coronavirus during the crisis.

Mr Crabtree said: “We followed the procedures.

“He (Mr Johnson) has picked the wrong fight with the wrong people. This is huge.

“Care home staff have dedicated every day to this. We did not cross-infect, or move people who we thought had covid. These care staff were PPE’d up since February.

“Mr Johnson, you are responsible. You are despicable for saying such a things against care home staff who were fighting to save these people’s lives. 

“We were left out to dry. They would not test our staff, they would not test our residents.

“The government said we were on a war footing over this. They blew the whistle and we went over the top for them. We feel like we have been thrown under the bus.

“Mr Johnson, you said you wanted to look after them, but you did nothing. You are demeaning them.

“This is an appalling situation.”

Meanwhile, Selina Firth, manager of Raikes Hall care home in Silsden, who took part in the same televised debate, spoke of the impact of the pandemic on her staff.

She said: “It’s been surreal. We are mentally and physically tired.

“We have always done our best. We have always had PPE. This is wrong what has been said.

“These people to us are not National Insurance numbers, they are not an NHS numbers, they are people, they are personalities. We have lost people. We have been with them while they have died painful deaths. It's like the unknown. Maybe if Boris would visit our home, he would see.

“For 29 residents, we got six tests.

“We are continually fighting. It’s a silent killer in this home.”

Meanwhile, Downing Street has declined to apologise after Boris Johnson provoked anger when he suggested "too many" care homes did not properly follow procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister's comments were 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."