Birkdale Park Nursing Home has temporarily halted visiting amid concerns of a second wave of Coronavirus, after areas of Greater Manchester had additional lockdown restrictions imposed.

Jonathan Cunningham MBE, Registered Care Manager at Birkdale Park Nursing Home and Chair of the North and South Sefton Care Home Group dispatched an email to relatives this morning confirming that visiting sessions have been stopped, effective immediately.

As of today residents from Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire are banned from meeting other households indoors. The restrictions do not cover Southport, but the proximity of regions showing increased Coronavirus cases has concerned many in the town.

Mr Cunningham says the lockdown in parts of Northern England and a shortage of testing swabs contributed to the decision.

Mr Cunningham said: “Several weeks ago in a huge fanfare of glory the Government announced that the all staff and residents would be swabbed on a regular basis. We were delighted. A week after this announcement the 200 kits I had fought for several months for my residents and staff were withdrawn.

“I remain waiting for more swabs and for my learning disabilities home the ordering portal still informs me I’m not permitted to order any tests. The mismanagement of this crisis is shocking.”

“This has been an unseen fight more brutal, more traumatic than anyone can imagine. I have seen broken, terrified staff put on their uniforms day after day to care for the residents they love. No fanfare, no fuss, just immense courage in the face of an unknown merciless enemy.”

Birkdale Park Nursing Home’s email to relatives in full

Hope you are all well. I write to inform you that with immediate effect I am halting all courtyard visits to Birkdale Park. I am still permitting clinical professional visits as they are essential at this time. We have been waiting for swabs from the government for the last 4 weeks since they withdrew the 200 swabs we had patiently waited for. This means I have no means of testing our residents nor staff. These are the only means we have to navigate our way out of the pandemic. No swabs – we are dangerously blind. We therefore remain in the same situation we were at the start of the pandemic not knowing if the virus is in our home or not. In addition, we are witnessing a second wave of COVID as I predicted some weeks ago. The widening of the Greater Manchester restrictions is deeply concerning.  I’m not prepared to see this virus ‘sneak in’ whilst we have no testing mechanism in place and while possible community contagion increases.

My focus now is to relock BP, await for the swabs for my lovely residents and staff and monitor the ‘R rate’ in the community to assess when is the best time to lift the restriction. From the outset I have trusted my own intuition on this matter.

I understand that this will be a disappointment to you but it is done with a heavy heart and only in the interests and safety of your relatives and our staff.  It of course will be lifted as soon as we feel it is appropriate. We will continue with planned outpatient appointments/dialysis etc.

Window visits (rear garden) skypes and phone calls will of course continue. I will be increasing the video walkarounds over this period of relock. If you have difficulty in accessing the internet or one of your relatives please let us know so we may possibly assist. Please make full use of the relatives gateway portal on the PCS system and message the nurses direct. I too am available at any time to chat and reassure you at this anxious time.

I’m available any time for you all.

Yours Jonathan