BGS statement on care homes High Court ruling
The BGS has commented on the High Court ruling that policies in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic failed to take account of the risks posed to older and vulnerable residents from patients being discharged from hospitals to care homes.
Last week the High Court ruled on a civil action brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris following the death of their fathers in care homes in England in April and May 2020.
The High Court ruled that the Department of Health policies in the early weeks of the pandemic failed to take account of the risks posed to older and vulnerable residents from patients being discharged from hospitals to care homes without COVID testing or appropriate isolation.
Dr Jennifer Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society, said:
Many people who lost family members living in care homes to COVID in the early stages of the pandemic will welcome the acknowledgement of a failure in government policy set out in this ruling. The High Court ruling found that the policy to discharge asymptomatic patients to care homes without COVID testing or appropriate isolation did not adequately protect care home residents. It should be remembered that in those early months, the routes of COVID transmission were not fully understood. Staff in the NHS, and in care homes, were working extremely hard in challenging circumstances and with emerging and changing guidance. The High Court ruling is important because it highlights the need to design healthcare and support that adequately protects and safeguards those at most risk of harm. In the case of the pandemic, as in many other aspects of healthcare, older people were particularly at risk with 85% of COVID deaths occurring in those aged over 65. This is likely to be a recurrent theme as the public inquiry into the pandemic gets underway. We stand ready to contribute to the inquiry in the coming months."