Published: 16:29, 08 July 2020
| Updated: 16:32, 08 July 2020
Boris Johnson's "weak" leadership and claims care homes failed to follow guidelines to prevent Covid-19 deaths have been branded "disgraceful" by a former Tory council leader.
The Prime Minister has been under fire since his comments on Monday and now ex-Medway Council leader of 15 years, Rodney Chambers, has hit out.
The councillor – who was first elected in 1973 and has an OBE for his services to local government – also slammed Mr Johnson for damaging national unity during lockdown through the Dominic Cummings saga.
Speaking at this week's Medway Council cabinet meeting, Cllr Chambers said: "It's a disgraceful comment. We rely on our care homes as part of the care structure. Without them we couldn't have worked together to help combat the pandemic. I deprecate [disapprove] the views he expressed.
"But he has done an untold damage between government and in particular local government will be perceived to be part of that as far as the good working relationship we have with our care homes.
"Without them we could not have dealt with the dreadful situation as we did when the pandemic struck.
"The Prime Minister needs to look at his own house.
"He said they didn't follow their procedures. How many times did the government not follow its own procedure?
"I can refer to one of the PM's own advisors who felt he did not need to follow the procedures.
"From the public perception – and in my view the weakness of the Prime Minster – he did not handle that situation. The public attitude to lockdown was 'if it's OK for one of the Prime Minister's advisors to get away with it, why should we bother to observe the lockdown'?
"That one act did a lot of damage to the cohesiveness that there was and still is fortunately, particularly here in Medway, in the public working together to fight this pandemic."
Fellow Tories also expressed anger with Cllr Phil Filmer saying he was “embarrassed” to hear the comments and described them as “unfair”.
“I have a lot to do with nursing homes,” Cllr Filmer said. “They are dedicated people who have worked hard; the hours they’ve put in.
“It was unfair. They’ve had the rough end of the pineapple and he [Mr Johnson] will have to retract what he’s said because they’re doing a great job.” Cllr David Brake, whose portfolio for adult social includes liaising with care homes, said: “I felt very sad and very hurt on behalf of all the care homes across Medway that have done so much.
“They’ve been at the forefront and have been the ones to check and look after our vulnerable people to make sure it all went well.”
He added reports in the early days of the crisis about care homes reporting a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and support from the government nationally had not been a big problem in Medway.
He said: “All of our care homes did provide the necessary PPE required in accordance with the contracts in their hands.
“For the one or two feeling vulnerable, they only had to make a call and council officers were there to back them up.”
Mr Johnson's comments came after NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens said the pandemic had shone "very harsh spotlight" on the "resilience" of the national care system.
The Prime Minister said on Monday: "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."
More by this authorMatt Leclere
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