The Chair of a North West care home group has slammed comments made by the Prime Minister suggesting care homes could be partially responsible for excess COVID-19 deaths.

Jonathan Cunningham, Registered Care Manager of Birkdale Park Nursing Home and Rosebank Care Home in Southport said the comments were “abhorrent”.

Mr Cunningham is also the Chair of the North and South Sefton Care Home Group. The group represents 132 care homes across Sefton.

On a visit to Goole on Monday, the Prime Minister said: “One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better and how we make sure we look after people better who are in social care.

“We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.

“Most important is to fund them properly… but we will also be looking at ways to make sure the care sector long term is properly organised and supported.”

When asked about the Prime Minister’s comments, Mr Cunningham told OTS News: “It’s abhorrent but sadly no surprise. Social care is larger than the NHS when it comes to the number of workers but, regrettably, this is entirely expected as there are no votes in social care.

“Mr Johnson is a very political beast. He knows exactly what comes from his mouth and his words were deliberate, calculated and designed to deflect responsibility from the true cause of excess deaths.

When asked on the reaction from colleagues in his industry, Mr Cunningham replied: “There is absolute dismay. The first week we were told ‘possibly, if you have an incident where a patient requires hospitalisation, it’s highly unlikely we will transfer your residents by ambulance, including for something like a serious head injury, or for an issue that requires IV intervention.

“At the time, the words were ‘We’re at war and we must protect the NHS’. What happened was we did protect the NHS. The deaths were in care homes. When [we realised hospitalisation was unlikely] we thought ‘Wow, we really are at war'”

“Mr Johnson says care homes weren’t following the procedures but there was no PPE, no goggles. I had to purchase ski goggles and cagoules for our staff to act as aprons. That’s the reality.

Mr Cunningham was quick to praise his staff and his colleagues across social care.

“We’ve had amazing workers in our homes. Day in, day out, they’ve put on their uniforms and they’ve been terrified, concerned for their own health and safety, but they’ve continued to assist people with COVID in our building. Every day they’ve dealt with that, happily and with courage. To hear Mr Johnson’s comments is a real kick in the teeth to all these people doing an incredible job.”