Coronavirus: Care home bosses 'put up smokescreen' over deaths

George Robinson with his father, also called GeorgeImage source, Family handout/PA Media
Image caption,
George Robinson is unable to visit his father, also called George, due to lockdown guidelines

The son of a care home resident has accused the facility's operators of "putting up a smokescreen" after not telling him 24 residents had died with coronavirus symptoms.

George Robinson said he only found out after reading a local newspaper's website.

The home's owners, HC-One, said the premises was in "recovery".

Mr Robinson feared his 85-year-old father, a retired miner also called George, had been put at risk by Melbury Court's policy of accepting residents discharged from the University Hospital of North Durham.

The businessman, from Wynyard in County Durham, said he had called weekly only to be told there had "been a couple of cases".

"I looked at the Northern Echo online yesterday morning and I saw the picture and thought 'that's my dad's home'," he said.

"It shocked me and my wife to think that my father was that close to it. My dad is 85, he worked hard all his life and he deserves better than this."

While praising the care provided by staff, Mr Robinson criticised "the lack of information from the management who have put a smokescreen around this".

Image caption,
Owners HC-One said the home had done everything it could to ensure its residents' safety

The home, on the outskirts of Durham, has a capacity for 87 residents.

Due to lockdown regulations, Mr Robinson is unable to visit his father who suffers from a number of health issues.

A spokesperson for the home said: "When an outbreak first occurs, the next of kin of our residents are contacted in writing and by telephone. Further updates will follow if there is a change in the health of their loved one.

"More broadly, families are encouraged to seek updates on their loved ones by contacting the home at any time."

The home said it had followed government advice by accommodating older people who no longer needed to be in hospital.

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