THE Mayor of Northwich has said the government is ultimately to blame for hospital patients being sent to care homes without being tested for Covid-19.

It follows a Guardian exclusive last week after a Freedom of Information request revealed 112 patients were sent to Cheshire care homes without being tested, while ten others who had tested positive were also discharged.

Cllr Kevin Rimmer, who as well as being the Mayor of the town, also works in a Northwich care home, said the pandemic had ultimately exposed the problems within the care home sector.

He said: "Every nursing home is struggling for staff, because until it's treated as a proper industry and we're paid appropriately you will never attract the right kind of person.

"None of us who work in care went into it for the money.

"For the time and effort we all put in, how it is not classed as skilled work just beggar's belief.

"As lots of people say, not everyone can do it, and it takes a special kind of person, and it does.

"But the state of the care industry as it stands, is just appalling, it needs to be brought into the 21st century"

Cllr Rimmer said Lostock Lodge, where he works, had been 'one of the lucky ones' during the pandemic and although testing was thorough and common place now, at the beginning, there was clearly a problem with patients being discharged from hospitals.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, I think the problem was there was no immediate plans in place with regards to testing.

"I'd never slate any hospital, because they are only working to guidelines themselves.

"But what caused a lot of the problems at the start was patients being sent back to care and nursing homes without knowing, and then, low and behold others at the homes got it as well.

"Residents in care homes are so vulnerable, once one gets it, it has the potential to wipe out the whole place.

"It's this government that needs to be held to account

"They don't understand the impact it has on people.

"It's totally shameful what's been happening, they're dealing with peoples lives."

With further restrictions put in place by Boris Johnson's government on Tuesday, Cllr Rimmer said another problem throughout the last six months has been the mixed messages being sent out by government.

He added: "A couple of weeks ago we were all being told to go back to work, now they've changed it to everyone should work from home if you can.

"I'm in a very fortunate position as the Mayor of Northwich, and any opportunity I get to bang the drum on adult social care, I'll do it.

"The problem with many of the senior politicians is that they have no idea what is going on at a community level.

Cllr Rimmer went on to say that he thought another problem has been the lack of honesty and transparency, both from government and other care and nursing home providers.

He said: "There's been far too much clouded in secrecy for me.

"They should be honest to all of us.

"This is why so many people clearly aren't buying into what they're being told.

"We've been very lucky at our care home.

"But I don't agree that some care and nursing homes haven't been open about how many cases and deaths they've had.

"I can maybe understand it from a business point of view, but you can't hide it from people because you're frightened you might not be able to fill some empty beds.

"People have a right to know, because it's one of the biggest decisions a family will ever make to put a loved one into a care or nursing home."

The impact on residents has been so difficult for residents and their families and Cllr Rimmer added how he wanted to use his role as an elected councillor to 'be the voice' of those living in the community.

"Some of these poor souls who've got dementia, because of how long the lockdown was, they don't understand, he said.

"They think that families have abandoned them.

"I appreciate that a lot of these people might be at the end of their lives, but it's not a dignified way to pass on.

"Certainly not from a family point of view anyway.

"Part of the reason people elect you onto a council is because they want you to act as their voice.

"It doesn't bother me if I upset or offend people.

"You are there for a reason and you have to stand up for people.

"If I feel like something needs to be said and shared, it gets said and shared."