Discharges were illegal

A government policy of discharging older people from hospitals to care homes at the start of the Covid pandemic has been condemned in the High Court.

In the scramble for hospital space, the government sought to free up 25,000 beds, a policy that involved discharging untested patients to care homes.  Declaring the policy unlawful, the High Court said that it failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable care home residents from asymptomatic transmission.

In a submission to the court, Jason Coppel QC said: “The government’s failure to protect [the care home population], and positive steps taken by the government which introduced Covid-19 infection into care homes, represent one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures in the modern era.”

National Care Forum CEO Vic Rayner said that people receiving care or working in the sector had not been on the government’s radar.  She added: “The impact of hospital discharge in relation to the spread of Covid within care homes has long been disputed by the government, but this ruling helps bring a vital clarity to the situation that recognises that people who receive care and support needed more protection and should have been at the forefront of government decision making, which they patently were not.”