Government care home approach ‘negligent’, says Commons report

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Advising hospitals to discharge thousands of patients into care homes without knowing if they had coronavirus was a “reckless” and “appalling” policy error, according to a Commons report.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said discharging around 25,000 patients to free up beds was an example of the government’s “slow, inconsistent and at times negligent” approach to social care.

Speaking with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier said Boris Johnson’s administration should have acted more quickly.

“It’s negligent for a government of any sort not the think through the consequences of its actions because it had huge power in this situation…there was an awareness out there and yet it just wasn’t tackled,” the Labour MP added.

Hospitals in England were asked on March 17 to discharge patients, but patients did not require a coronavirus test prior to discharge until April 15.

And it was the end of April when the government said all care home residents and staff, regardless of symptoms, would be able to access tests.

But Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden rejected the characterisation of negligence, saying 40 per cent fewer people were discharged into care homes between February and April than the same time the previous year.

“Of course there are lessons for us to learn and we’ve been clear about the need to learn lessons, but we haven’t sat still with this,” the Culture Secretary said.

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