|Volume 52 Number 10, May 7, 2022||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
High Court ruling on the unlawful discharge of hospital patients to care homes:
On April 27, the High Court ruled that the government policies on discharging untested patients from hospital to care homes in England at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic were unlawful. Speaking outside the High Court, Cathy Gardner who lost a loved one and was one of the relatives that took the action against the government said, "Matt Hancock's claim that the government threw a protective ring around care homes in the first wave of the pandemic was nothing more than a despicable lie."
Boris Johnson then offered an apology at Prime Minister's Questions the same day. The following day the people found out what the government's so-called apology meant when on April 28 the Parliament and Queen approved the Health and Care Act 2022 . This shows a government hell-bent on imposing the same system of lies, privatisation and cronyism on the NHS, so prevalent during its criminal actions during pandemic, which led to deaths of thousands of care home residents.
It was in April 2020 that the government admitted for the first time that the figures of the deaths of people in care homes and the community from Covid-19 were far from the truth. Workers' Weekly  reported then that "Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, confirmed that the figures had been 'substantially underestimated' as he appeared before the Commons Select Committee". With no hard data being recorded by the government and Office for National Statistics (ONS), it was left to the National Care Forum  to carry out a survey that demonstrated "a significant increase in Coronavirus related deaths within care homes". These deaths were directly caused by the government's department of health discharge policy that encouraged untested patients and Covid positive patient placement in care homes. This analysis suggests that "a total of 4,040 people may have died of this illness within UK residential and nursing services before April 13 2020. Factoring in the deaths of individuals who were admitted to hospitals, the figure is a tragic 7,337 deaths amongst our most vulnerable communities."
In October, Amnesty International UK released a report entitled As if Expendable  condemning the British government's "failure to protect older people in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic". The report said that between March 2 and June 12, 18,562 residents of care homes in England died with Covid-19, including 18,168 people aged 65 and over, representing almost 40% of all deaths involving Covid-19 in England during this period. Of these deaths, 13,844 (76%) happened in care homes themselves; nearly all of the remainder occurred in a hospital. During the same period, 28,186 "excess deaths" were recorded in care homes in England, representing a 46% increase compared with the same period in previous years. These excess deaths likely include undiagnosed Covid-19 deaths, but also "underscore the broader impact of the pandemic on older people in care homes" from inability to access hospital and GP treatment services and to the devastating impact of long term isolation of residents on their physical and mental health.
Then in December 2021, the report of the People's Covid Inquiry, Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily? , was released. The report published the evidence presented to the eight sessions and includes some 40 inquiry witnesses, and additional video testimonies. In drawing its conclusions the report says: "The Government was not prepared for a global pandemic despite warnings that one was coming. When it arrived, they ignored clear warnings of the dangers and did too little too late. During the decade before the pandemic successive Conservative Governments had run down public services, including the NHS, public health and care services, with the result that they were already in crisis when the pandemic struck. The pandemic then shone a light on long term problems in society around inequalities and discrimination and exacerbated them. The poorest and most vulnerable were hit the hardest and died in disproportionate numbers."
The admission and "apologies" of the Prime Minster and other government ministers responsible for these thousands of deaths in care homes is yet unforgivable, not just to those who lost their loved ones, but to everyone. Not only should those responsible be brought to account for their unlawful actions, but the outdated and unacceptable corporate-led and pay-the-rich arrangements in the NHS and care sector must be changed for good. The system that ignores the lives and concerns of the people, and where the health and care workers have little or no say in these arrangements, must be changed for good. What health care workers and people in the community have been fighting for is a publicly funded and provided system of health and social care that meets the needs of all for hospital, community, mental health and care home care. Central to such a system is the necessity to empower health workers and care workers to make the crucial decisions. This includes the ability to mobilise the working class and people to their full capacity and with their full involvement, especially in times of such a crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic. Nothing less is acceptable.
1. "Imposing the Path of Privatisation and Cronyism in the NHS", Workers' Weekly, April 16, 2022
2. "The Outdated and Unacceptable Arrangements As Government Ignores People Who Die in Care Homes", Workers' Weekly April 18, 2020
3. "Ring of steel needed to support care homes as deaths double in a week", NCF press release, April 18, 2020
4. As if Expendable - the UK government's failure to protect older people in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic - Amnesty International, UK.
5. Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily?
Workers' Weekly March 2022