AN MP has launched a fierce attack on the Government’s handling of coronavirus in care homes.

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, weighed in after the chief medical officer attempted to defend the Government’s record yesterday.

Professor Chris Whitty claimed that the risk of agency staff travelling between homes and spreading the virus was not recognised early on during the outbreak.

Appearing at the Health and Social Care Committee, he said: “We had not recognised what are in retrospect obvious but were not obvious points early on. For example, the fact that people working in multiple homes, people who were not paid sick leave – that is a clear risk.”

The Argus: Professor Chris Whitty at a press briefing earlier this yearProfessor Chris Whitty at a press briefing earlier this year

But Mr Kyle said he had personally warned the Government after one of the country’s first care home outbreaks to make the headlines took place in Hove.

Residents at Oaklands Nursing Home were infected in March, and at least one of those who showed symptoms died with the virus.

The Argus:

In an interview with The Argus, Mr Kyle said: “It was shocking to see the chief medical officer give the impression that nobody could have foreseen the impending dangers to social care posed by coronavirus.

“By the time coronavirus arrived on British shores a quarter of cases in France, a third in Spain and a great many in Italy were taking place in social care.

“I stood up in Parliament on March 25 and told the Prime Minister – and I wrote to the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary on March 31 – telling them precisely that the system of social care will be responsible for bringing contagion into care homes and spreading it between them.

The Argus:

“I mentioned on both occasions the issue of agency workers. The Government knew. They knew, and they did nothing.”

Mr Kyle said it was “a final insult” to the families of those who had died to suggest the problem had not been understood.

He said he had been able to contact every care home in the community within a week of news of the first case at Oaklands, and argued the problem of agency workers going between homes was quickly apparent.

Mr Kyle is furious with the Government.

“I’ve been angered far beyond what is normal for me,” he said.

“This is life and death – people are losing their lives because the people making decisions did not show the care that those receiving it deserve.”

The Government did not respond to a request for comment.