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Care home discharges during Covid ruled ‘unlawful’

05 May 2022

The UK government’s policy on discharging people from hospital into care homes without testing them for Covid, in order to give those who needed it follow up care after contracting Covid, at the start of the pandemic, has been ruled unlawful at the High Court in London.

Over 40,000 care home residents’ deaths involved Covid.

The case was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris who lost their fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris to the virus.

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham ruled that policies released in March and early April 2020 were unlawful because they did not to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of Covid.

The SAGE scientific advisory group had said that "asymptomatic transmission cannot be ruled out" in early February 2020, and the judges said that despite "growing awareness" of the risk of asymptomatic transmission during March 2020, there was no evidence that (then) Health Secretary Matt Hancock had addressed the issue of risk to care home residents.

After the ruling, families who lost loved ones who lived in care homes to the virus in Scotland said that they were now also considering legal action. The Scottish government said it would "examine the findings in detail". 3,774 care home residents in Scotland lost their lives to the virus up to the end of March 2021.

The High Court ruling can be read here.