MP calls for inquiry into care home deaths in Warwick district and backs Covid memorial plans

Warwick and Leamington MP calls for inquiry into care home deaths in Warwick district and backs Covid memorial plans

Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:54 am
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:56 am

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has repeated his call for an inquiry into care home deaths in Warwickshire and has backed plans for a Covid memorial.

The Warwick and Leamington MP’s calls come days after the anniversary of the first lockdown last March - as the UK approaches 130,000 virus deaths.

It also follows Labour’s demand for a national inquiry into the government’s pandemic response.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western

Warwick district has had the highest proportion of Covid deaths in care homes of any West Midlands council the year to date, Local Government Association figures show.

He says the regional figures are concerning and show that lessons have still not been learned.

There have been around 450 excess deaths in Warwickshire care homes since the beginning of 2020, according to Warwickshire County Council’s figures.

By the end of last year, Stratford-Upon-Avon had the highest percentage of virus deaths taking place in care homes in the West Midlands.

Rugby recorded the second highest while Warwick was also high on the list.

But blame should not be directed at care home residents or staff, Mr Western insisted.

He claims the council was slow to prioritise social care in important pandemic response meetings until he intervened.

He said: “The catalogue of errors by the government and underfunded local councils saw the virus surge through our care homes.

“So many things could have been done differently but sending residents back into care homes from hospitals without testing was a particularly deadly mistake.

“What is telling is how early on the county council’s Conservative leadership would not tell me that there had been outbreaks in local care homes - even when I asked them where they were.

“There was radio silence and a clear attempt to cover up the unfolding catastrophe.

“There were problems with a lack of PPE in care homes from the beginning of the pandemic.”

Nearly two fifths of Warwick district’s virus deaths so far this year have happened in care homes.

In Warwickshire as a whole, a quarter of virus deaths have occurred in care homes so far this year.

By the end of last year, it was up to a third.

On a national inquiry, he said: “It is essential to truly honour the memories of those who died and learn from the mistakes of the past.

“It is one year since we first locked down in March. And the Labour Party along with our nation’s foremost scientists called on the government to lockdown sooner than it did on three separate occasions - advice which, if heeded, could have saved tens of thousands of lives.”

“I called for test and trace to be localised, which has been shown to be successful – in stark contrast to the system run by private firm Serco.

“Since March I have been calling for FFP3-grade PPE to be distributed to NHS staff and key workers. They are still waiting.”

The Labour MP has also backed plans for a permanent memorial to those who died with the virus in Warwick district – suggesting it could be in Jephson Gardens.

He also said he is hoping a multi-faith memorial service can be arranged at Coventry Cathedral.