Two senior East Riding councillors have criticised the Liberal Democrat opposition leader for launching an “investigation based on anecdotes rather than evidence” into care home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cllr Vanessa Walker, portfolio holder for adult and carer services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The Lib Dem Group intends to carry out its own survey of care homes, but this investigation is apparently based on anecdotes rather than evidence.

“My fear is that this will take up valuable time from care home staff who are still working tirelessly to look after their residents, including those with COVID-19. 

“This is not the time for political posturing, but it is important that our population know the facts, rather than be encouraged to fear that their health and wellbeing is not considered to be of the utmost importance by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and its health and social care partners.

“My invitation to any member of the Lib Dem Group is to contact me personally, just pick up the phone and tell me about any concerns. I promise I will investigate immediately which might be a more efficient and timely way of resolving any problems or issues as they arise.”

Councillor Victoria Aitken, Chair of the East Riding Health, Care and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which includes all political party membership, said: “I’m confident this committee will conduct its own unbiased scrutiny into any COVID-19-related issues supported by professional council officers.

“We are already investigating issues that have been brought to our attention and there is total commitment that lessons will be learnt where genuine failings are revealed.

“This is not the time to play party politics. This is the time to examine how our care homes responded to the crisis, how our health sector generally responded and what lessons can be learned.

“That work is already being undertaken, for example the Committee has already looked into the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and is assured that PPE has been available to care homes throughout the pandemic.”

Cllr Walker concluded by reporting: “I attended, via Zoom, the cross-party Health Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on 16 June 2020.

“Any member of the council and members of the public are free to attend via YouTube streaming and minutes are published on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s website.

“My observation is that the Chairman and members care passionately about the health and wellbeing of all East Riding residents.

“It takes a balanced approach showing appreciation to all those who’ve worked hard, but also it does not shy away from raising challenges where appropriate.”