Planners ‘paid little attention’ to fears care homes could collapse in a pandemic, leaked document shows

It also suggested far more work with other sectors to boost the ability of care homes to cope.

“The following should be considered: Extending spillover capacity by putting contracts in place with large hotel chains, reopening closed facilities or purchasing extra capacity in some of the care homes which form part of the top 50 providers,” it said.

Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, which represents the largest independent care home providers, said the concerns raised by the exercise were not raised by Government agencies with his members.

“It beggars belief,” Mr Green told The Guardian. “This is a report that made some really clear recommendations that haven’t been implemented. 

“If they had put in place, a response to every one, we would have been in a much better place at the start of this pandemic.”

Liz Kendall, the shadow social care minister, said: “The report on Exercise Cygnus provided clear warnings that we were not properly prepared for a pandemic.

“In particular it highlights that local plans for social care were inadequate and that social care services wouldn’t be able to cope with the number of people discharged from hospitals to ensure the NHS had enough beds to meet demand.

“These warnings have now proved all too sadly true, as the unfolding tragedy in our care homes shows. Care providers confirm they were not involved in subsequent discussions on how to put these problems right.

“Ministers must be clear about why they failed to act on the report’s recommendations and what they will now do to fully protect and resource these vital services in future.”

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: “All the families who have lost loved ones in care homes during the pandemic will be wondering what might have been had the very clear warnings in these papers been heeded. I simply cannot imagine how they are feeling today. 

“What’s the point of the Government carrying out scenario planning exercises if the results are then simply shelved? 

“The people who decided it was OK to ignore these warnings will have to live with the terrible consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives, knowing others have lost theirs. They should be deeply ashamed.”

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