Radio 2

"Flemish government failed to save lives in care homes"

The socialist health fund has blamed the Flemish government for avoidable deaths in care homes for the elderly. On the eve of May Day, the traditional feast of the socialist and labour movements, Paul Callewaert, head of the socialist health funds, says: “Residents were banned from getting any visits and staff were left without protective equipment and instructions.  There is great cropped up anger about this”.

Mr Callewaert accuses all those in charge of policy of making mistakes.  The Flemish government responded too late in the day to prevent outbreaks in care homes.  Half of all corona deaths were recorded in Flemish care homes.

Visits to care homes were banned on 12 March, but according to Callewaert it then remained incredibly quiet for weeks with staff left without protective equipment and no accompanying measures.

“The first real measures were taken four weeks later.  Valuable weeks were lost.”

“A taskforce should have been in place immediately, protective equipment, instructions for treatment and testing should have been provided.  Deaths could have een prevented.  Staff were incarcerated in the homes without protection.”

Mr Callewaert can’t understand why no visitors are allowed after the security council decided two weeks ago this could go head: “Visits should have been organised from the start, especially in end-of-life situations.”

But the head of the socialist health fund also strikes a positive note: “The crisis has led to a spontaneous show of solidarity.  In addition to spontaneous solidarity there is the organised solidarity of the authorities: social security and the redistribution mechanism.  We stand strong as a community if our authorities are strong and our social security is strong too.”