Dear Editor,

It is disappointing that the Star article on the areas with the highest Coronavirus death rate in the city referred to the “large Roma population, some of whom have been seen flouting the strict lockdown rules” in the second line of the report. The Star has also published pictures of Roma men sent in by a former councillor.

It is dangerous to use the pandemic – like Donald Trump does – to stir up racism. I have to say the pictures from Fir Vale are little different to what I have seen in many parts of the city.

The link between Roma people and coronavirus deaths is entirely false.

Social distancing is important – but is so much easier when you don’t live in already overcrowded housing.

The Page Hall area includes Westbourne Nursing Home. Westbourne is part of the Palms Row group that has seen a shocking 18 coronavirus deaths already in their three homes. The group was criticised for moving residents between homes without telling families they were moving their elderly relatives into homes with confirmed cases of coronavirus. They have now admitted positive coronavirus tests for at least 60 residents and 36 staff.

Putting the three homes together, this seems to be more deaths than any other care home in the UK.

This is deeply disturbing. Many care homes in Sheffield have had coronavirus cases but they have not had widespread outbreaks.

We all support our NHS and are in awe of how well individual staff have pulled together. But care homes are not “an extension of the NHS” as Palms Row has claimed, in order to demand more public money.

Palms Row is a commercial enterprise seeking to make profit from its capital invested in its care homes business. It is a complicated web of business names, holdings companies, trading subsidiaries, debentures and shares.

This is not to criticise any of the staff at Palms Row, nor indeed the company itself. But there are questions which need to be asked – and which need to be answered – about how fit a private sector social care system is to look after us in old age.

Cllr Douglas Johnson
Sheffield Green Party

See also: Care Homes Are The Poor Relation

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