The owners of the nursing home at the centre of a Covid outbreak say they will be challenging the actions of the DHSC.

They say they only learned about the department’s plan to move out the remaining residents after a press release went out.

In a letter to residents and families, Abbotswood Medical Ltd said it has lodged an appeal against the suspension of its registration.

It said directors were given no advance notice of the DHSC’s ‘awful news’ about moving the residents out.

The letter reads: ‘We asked the DHSC to lift the registration suspension and allow us to run the home again with conditions.

‘We have done all we can to try and prevent our residents being moved out.'We have lodged an appeal to the suspension of our registration and will be challenging DHSC's actions.'They recognised residents and families felt 'left in the dark' but said they had been 'restricted' by the DHSC from contacting them or the media.The DHSC has collected fees since it took over the running of the home but owners had not been invoicing the residents while continuing to pay the staff.An independent inquiry has been launched into events at Abbotswood. The results will be made public, the Health Minister confirmed.

Abbotswood Medical Ltd said: ‘We appreciate there has to be an investigation into everything that has happened. Indeed, we feel there should be a judicial inquiry entirely independent of government.’

The DHSC took over the running of Abbotswood on Easter Monday, having suspended the home’s registration.

Mr Ashford insisted that his department had wanted to keep the residents at Abbotswood but claimed the terms of the lease offered by the owners were unacceptable.

At yesterday’ press briefing, the Minster was asked about Abbotswood staff who were losing their jobs.

Mr Ashford said they would be offered bank staff roles and the department would look to see if there were suitable vacancies for them.'The situation is regrettable. We are not going to be able to take on the full complement of Abbotswood staff,' he said.