THE owner of an independent care home in Cumbria has described payments offered to take patients who test positive for Covid-19 as a 'bribe'.

This week, it was revealed independent care homes had been asked to welcome patients who test positive for Covid-19.

Cumbria County Council and North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (NCCCG) have written to independent care providers asking for expressions of interest in taking in positive patients and look after them until they are non-symptomatic and have isolated for 14 days.

The authorities are offering a £1,500 payment per bed per week to cover the care home’s costs. It is understood that if independent care settings did not express an interest, the patients would be welcomed by council-run homes, if necessary, and that this was part of a national policy.

However, one care provider has described the payment offered as a bribe.

The care home owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was appalled by the request.

He said: “First they insisted on discharging untested patients into care homes, then they prioritised hospitals over care homes for PPE, then they claimed they ‘threw a protective ring around care homes from the very beginning’, then Boris Johnson blamed care home staff for spreading the contagion, and now they are offering a bribe to take positive patients into the most vulnerable environment. It is almost beyond belief.”

The county council and the NCCCG said they wanted to hear from providers who would be able to welcome the patients.

Their letter said: “Ensuring safe and appropriate discharges from hospital settings into care homes whilst minimising the risk of ongoing transmission Covid 19 is of the highest priority.

“A small number of people may need to be discharged from the NHS within the 14-day period from the onset of Covid 19 symptoms needing ongoing social care. They will have been Covid -19 tested and have confirmed Covid-positive status. Some care providers will be able to accommodate these individuals through effective isolation strategies or cohorting policies.”

The letter said the authorities were looking for 12 beds and that the request would be initially for six months.

Cumbria County Council has declined to offer further comment. The NCCCG was approached for comment but had not responded by the time of going to press.