A POLITICAL row has erupted over reports of a high number of coronavairus-related deaths at a care home.

Sandringham Care Home, in Bishop Auckland, has been in the spotlight following a BBC report which claimed 27 had died with coronavirus.

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison alleged she was “turned away” from the care home after learning of the reported deaths and has called for an investigation.

However, the care home has disputed the number of coronavirus-related deaths reported, telling The Northern Echo that 21 residents have died with the virus.

Now, the Bishop Auckland and Coundon Labour Party has slammed the Conservatives, claiming the blame for the deaths lies with party's policies.

There has been heavy criticism of the discharge of hospital patients into care homes without Covid tests in the early weeks of the pandemic. 

In a statement, a spokesperson from the Labour branch said: “We are devastated and angry that the Conservative Party response to Covid-19 caused the death of one third of all the residents in Sandringham Care Home. Those residents deserved better.”

Conservative supporters have hit back, claiming the Tories are not responsible.

And they have pointed at Bishop Auckland Mayor, and Labour Councillor Joy Allen in comments made on Facebook, saying she put the vulnerable at risk during a visit to the home in May where she dropped off cakes in support of key workers.

The Northern Echo:

In a Facebook post on May 16, Cllr Allen said: “More cakes and treats for our County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust staff.

"Lovely surprise to see newly promoted Tracy Shield from ward six yesterday as I thanked the team on behalf of the town for all the amazing work they are doing at Bishop Auckland during Covid-19 before helping Wendy Ann Preston Just Like Grandma’s Shop deliver another batch of cakes for heroes.”

Conservative supporters say there should be an enquiry into what happened and that health and safety was compromised for a photo opportunity by Cllr Allen

Following the criticism, the mayor has spoken out saying she believes the comments are politically motivated and very misleading.

She said: “As a gesture of the town’s gratitude to all those working tirelessly on the front line in the health and care services I accompanied a local businesswoman who had baked hundreds of cakes for our local heroes.

“This was at a time of exceptional goodwill by many members of our community who were donating food and gifts to these wonderful staff who were working in very challenging and emotionally distressing settings.

“Permissions were sought prior to the visits and social distance guidance was adhered to.

“At no time did we enter the care homes or hospital but ensured we socially distanced as you would expect.

“All of these visits were posted on social media and were well received by the public of Bishop Auckland.

“Obviously you can’t please everyone all of the time but as the town’s mayor I do my best to show leadership and empathy particularly at this very difficult time.”