THE son of a former miner living in a care home where 24 people have died after suffering from Covid-19 symptoms has said he fears his father’s life is being put at risk.

George Robinson has accused Melbury Court care home, in Durham, of creating a ‘smokescreen’ to keep the scale of the problem from the families of residents.

The home has the highest number of deaths in the country, and a further 38 residents have recovered from the virus.

Mr Robinson, from Wynyard, said he only found out the death toll after it was reported on the Northern Echo’s website on Wednesday.

The Northern Echo: Melbury Court in DurhamMelbury Court in Durham

He said: “We are shocked and appalled by this.

“My father cannot look after himself and we cannot support him because we cannot go in.

“We are reliant on these people who have given us no information.

“When I read about how many people had died it shocked me. I am my father’s next-of-kin but I have had no communication from them.”

Mr Robinson’s father, also called George, 85, has lived there for over a year after suffering from a severe stroke at his home in Brandon, which has left him vulnerable and dependant of carers.

His son added: “Getting information has been like getting blood out of a stone.

“We have always asked if people have got Covid-19 and the answer has always been ‘oh there is a couple’ but then we hear it is 24 who have died and 62 who have been affected.”

The home, which has a capacity of 87, is run by HC-One, Britain’s largest care home provider, which has said publicly it is concerned about its ability to carry its debt burden due to the impact of the global pandemic on its finances.

Four of the people who have died were transferred to the home, near University Hospital of North Durham, from hospital.

The company has said they had recovered and were deemed to be well.

But Mr Robinson has said he believes the decision to take coronavirus patients is motivated by money.

He said: “They have accepted these people and have put the home at risk.

“They have had a particularly high death rate. This is unacceptable.

“Is this a problem where they are putting finance before health? I think it is immoral.”

The Northern Echo:

George Robinson, 85, who lives in Melbury Court, Durham 

Mr Robinson (Junior) has said he fears contracting the deadly virus could kill his father.

He said: “He has worked all of his life, and he is in a system where they are potentially bringing people and putting him at risk.

“Through no fault of his own I feel he is being put at risk by the actions of this care home group.

“We are totally reliant on the care system. Before we were able to go in and pick up any problems and ask them to sort it out. Now we cannot even visit.”

HC-One said Melbury Court did not admit patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 and those who were admitted were believed to have recovered.

The firm said there were suspected cases at the home before patients were admitted from the hospital into the home.

A spokesperson said: “Like many care homes, we were asked to do our national duty and support the NHS by admitting older people who no longer needed to be in a hospital. At all times we followed the Government advice on how to safely accept these admissions, including isolating individuals for two weeks and implementing barrier nursing.

“We are confident the correct process was followed as soon as residents had symptoms, with testing arranged as soon as possible.

“National and international evidence highlights how difficult it is to control and trace the spread of the virus, particularly in the early part of the UK pandemic when testing was not routinely available. “This virus can be symptomless and therefore invisible for days, and in many cases remains completely symptomless.

“It is not possible to determine how the virus got into the home and it would be inappropriate to speculate on this matter.”