Holmesley Care Home, Sidmouth, banned from taking new residents

A care home at the centre of a police inquiry over a Covid-19 outbreak has been banned from taking on any new residents.

www.bbc.co.uk

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) also downgraded the Holmesley Care Home in Sidmouth, Devon from good to inadequate on safety and leadership.

The CQC visited the home in February and March, days before an outbreak of Covid-19 which led to nine deaths.

Two people have been arrested on suspicion of wilful neglect.

The CQC said it had imposed conditions on the operation of the care home, preventing it from admitting new residents, or re-admitting former residents “without prior written agreement from the CQC”.

The care home “must also ensure that systems are in place to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 to protect patients and staff”, said the CQC.

Amanda Stride, CQC’s head of adult social care, said: “When we inspected Holmesley Care Home, we found that people were not protected from the spread of infection.

“During the first day of our inspection we observed seven members of staff wearing face masks under their chin, or not at all.

“Soon afterwards, the care home experienced a widespread outbreak of Covid-19.

“As the circumstances which led to this are now subject to a police investigation, we are unable to comment further on this.”

She said inspectors found “widespread and significant shortfalls in the way in which the service was led”.

“Residents were at risk of neglect and abuse because systems to monitor the quality of care were either not in place, or not operating efficiently,” she said.

The CQC would “continue to monitor the service closely, in conjunction with the local authority, to ensure that improvements are made and fully embedded”.

It was also meeting managers “to discuss how they plan to make the required changes to improve their rating and we will re-inspect to check the improvements have been made”.

Another day in the High Court: PPE case update

Good Law Project  us15.campaign-archive.com /

Today the High Court heard our lawyers detail waste, mismanagement – and yet more special treatment for politically connected companies placed in the “VIP” Lane. 

Government paid tens of millions of pounds to PestFix and Ayanda Capital for face masks which did not meet NHS standards. An email from a senior official stated that they needed to “get out of a contract” due to “a failure of the commercial process…

PestFix was in the “VIP” lane because an ex-director was an old-school friend of a senior official’s father-in-law; Ayanda, because one of its senior advisers was a member of Government’s Board of Trade.

Government failed to carry out any proper checks before ordering gowns from PestFix. After examining the evidence, our lawyers told the Court: “over £100m spent on gowns with no technical assurance, no financial due diligence and based on a misunderstanding of the gowns which were actually being purchased.”

Government didn’t put its cards on the table. One witness went to some lengths to “gloss over” – as our lawyer put it – the lack of technical assurance. It was left to a detailed forensic review by our legal team to uncover this extraordinary failure. 

Government awarded huge contracts to Ayanda Capital despite it having failed financial due diligence. The hedge fund was given a red rating, which meant there were “Major issues or concerns [which] would need to be resolved before we use them

Not only did this not dissuade Government from accepting Ayanda’s offer to supply millions of FFP2 masks, but its VIP status actually meant that it was invited to supply a different type of mask, leading to an even larger contract award.

This was taxpayers’ money, dished out to companies because of who they knew, not what they could supply. The result – unsurprisingly – was a waste of hundreds of millions of pounds. In these contracts alone.

Our challenge seeks to get to the truth of the PPE procurement process in which – again to quote our lawyer – “a truly colossal amount of public money” was spent “in circumstances of almost total secrecy”.

Please help us shine a light on this scandal by sharing with your friends and family and asking them to sign up for updates. 

Thank you,

Jo Maugham 

Director of Good Law Project

New leader of the council to be elected this month

[Tuesday 25 May, socially distanced at 6.00 pm Westpoint – Owl]

Paul Arnott www.midweekherald.co.uk

Many readers may know that councils have been meeting entirely by Zoom since March 2020, with two great benefits. 

The first of course has been to prevent the spread of infection. The second has been the ability to attend meetings and really get stuck in while not having to drive 15 miles to do so. The final attendance figures for the last civic year are still being looked at – but I suspect that meetings have probably seen a rise of the numbers of councillors attending of about 25%

The reasons for this are clear. Without wishing to play the violin, backbench East Devon councillors are allowed a (taxable) amount of a little over £4,000 per year to cover all their expenses and all their time. Many give two to three whole days a week to their work, and the reward is pitiful. If however they can attend a meeting for a couple of hours without it turning into a whole half day, this enables those with jobs or young families to play a much fuller part.

However, the Conservatives, despite universal pleas from across the political spectrum, have now failed to put in place the legislation needed after emergency Covid-19 powers lapsed on May 7. Therefore, as if in Dr Who’s Tardis, we have all been propelled back to the sideburned days of 1972, when the most recent legislation was passed, insisting that councillors had to be “present” to vote in any meeting.

In 1972, the idea of the internet might pop up in Star Trek or an Isaac Asimov SF novel. And back then, council meetings were mostly old men with brylcreemed hair smoking their way through long afternoons in civic halls. Today that has entirely changed.

One of the problems that my group on the council has is that far from being stale old men with yellow fingers, there is a welcome mixture of younger councillors elected in 2019. It’s not that they have not had two jabs; many have not even had one. The first fruit of the government’s failure was seen at our Cabinet last week where a portfolio holder in their thirties simply did not feel it was safe to attend, and I don’t blame them.

But Cabinet is just 10 councillors. Next week we are being forced to hold our annual meeting – where the Chair and Leader of the council for 2021-22 will be elected by all 59 councillors – in conditions we are still working on at Westpoint. Our own quite sizeable chamber at Blackdown House is not remotely big enough for 59, plus officers, to meet safely.

This will involve a huge amount of wasted public money, councillor and officer anxiety, and the unanswerable question: what do those with one or no jabs do? Sorry to be so blunt, but this government doesn’t give a damn, even though we have been warning about this for a whole year.

It is so obvious that we should meet, as we did last May, to hold this annual meeting by Zoom. But to do so is to break a 50 year old law, and the government has simply washed their hands of the consequences. Closer to home, your parish and town councils are being forced to do this too. Last week, Seaton Town Council held their annual meeting in a car park, praying that the rain would hold off. They will not be alone in this.

However, we will crack on of course, and must continue to make the case to government to legislate as they had promised. I will not hold my breath. Many believe there is a cussed inclination emanating from the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who sets the tone in these matters, that it’s all stuff and nonsense. Tell that to my eldest son in Glasgow, where the Indian strain this week is as virulent as it is in Bolton.